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UPDATED: 10:45, February 01, 2006
French constitutional council rules out controversial colonial clause
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France's constitutional council on Tuesday struck out the clause of a law that recognizes the "positive role" of French colonialism.

The constitutional council, France's highest judicial body, said the offending article lay outside the competence of the legislature.

The controversial article, included in a law passed last February, prescribed that "scholastic programs recognise in particular the positive role of the French overseas presence."

But the council noted that school texts are fixed by government regulation and not by law, and that the clause is therefore inadmissible.

Last Wednesday, the French President Jacques Chirac referred the disputed law to the nine-member council, after it provoked outrage in French overseas departments.

Academics had said the article was a flagrant intrusion by politicians into the realm of historical debate, while French leftists accused the government of trying to lay down an official version of the colonial past that ignored its huge human cost.

Source: Xinhua

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