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Hollande invokes French terrorism threat, defends passport-stripping

French President Francois Hollande waits for a guest at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, December 2, 2015.REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - President Francois Hollande said on Thursday France was “not finished with terrorism” and used a new year’s message to defend controversial plans to strip citizenship from those convicted of terrorism offences.

“The threat is still there,” he said in a televised address. “It remains in fact at its highest level, and we are regularly disrupting planned attacks.”

The French leader defended proposed constitutional changes to support a crackdown on militants following November’s deadly Islamist attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people.

Under the plans, French-born dual passport holders could be stripped of their nationality - a sanction currently applicable only to naturalised citizens.

The proposals, yet to go before the French National Assembly and Senate, have divided Hollande’s ruling Socialists and drawn veiled criticism from his own justice minister, Christine Taubira.

“I made a choice in good conscience that was proportionate to what France has suffered,” Hollande said.

“The debate is legitimate and I respect it,” he said, while adding: “Where your protection is concerned, France must remain united and make the right decisions.”

Reporting by Laurence Frost; editing by Ralph Boulton