PARIS – The two main right-wing candidates in the upcoming French presidential election vowed on Friday to strengthen the country’s borders after an assailant attacked police officers in Paris, killing one.
François Fillon, from the Les Républicains party, said in a press conference that, should he be elected, he would try to renegotiate the European Union’s Schengen agreement in order to maintain control of the national borders beyond November 2017.
“The scale must be changed, we need to re-arm ourselves with regards to security, the military, and diplomacy, but also ideology and politics,” he said.
The former conservative Prime Minister, who has been embroiled in a fake jobs scandal surrounding his wife and children, said he intended to fight so-called Islamic totalitarianism with an iron fist.
For her part, far-right National Front (FN) candidate Marine Le Pen demanded that the country be handed back control of its national borders after the shooting.
She said the assailant could become a symbol of the failures of the judiciary system, which she claimed was unable to protect France because it lacked a clear political order.
“We cannot win this war if we do not immediately put an end to this penal laxness that has allowed the criminal to commit his fourth attempted murder against police officers,” she said, denouncing that he had committed three attacks against police officers in the early 2000s and had received only a 15-year sentence.
French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve accused her of wanting to exploit the attack in her favor.
He also said that Fillon, who claimed he would dedicate his presidency to fighting Islamic terror, had not made any advances in the war against terror while he was PM from 2007-2012.
On Thursday evening, a gunman shot at police officers on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, killing one and injuring two.
A second man suspected of being linked to the attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State terror organization, handed himself in to police in the northern Belgian city of Antwerp.
The attack occurred during a televised debate between candidates in the French presidential election, the first round of which is slated for Sunday.