Hungary seeks to ban 'group resettlement' of migrants

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Budapest (AFP) - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday proposed changing the constitution to ban the large-scale resettlement of migrants, after voters overwhelmingly backed his rejection of an EU refugee quota plan in a referendum.

Orban said the text of the amendment will state that "group resettlement is forbidden".

"As 98 percent voted 'No' to the mandatory resettlement of migrants, the referendum result must be enforced in law," he told journalists in Budapest.

Orban's ruling Fidesz party will submit the proposal to parliament by October 10, followed by a vote on November 8.

The amendment should pass with the required two-thirds majority as it has the support of the radical right Jobbik party.

However, the opposition Socialist party slammed Orban for "setting out on the path of dictators" by changing the constitution after an "invalid" referendum result.

Some 3.3 million Hungarians had voted on Sunday against a European Union scheme seeking to share migrants around the 28-member bloc via mandatory quotas without the consent of national parliaments.

The vote was declared invalid because of low turnout, but Orban nonetheless hailed the outcome as "a sweeping victory" in his revolt against Brussels and vowed to change the constitution to "reflect the will of the people".

The populist strongman said on Tuesday the ban would apply to all future plans for relocating migrants and not affect those already in place.

"The already approved migrant quota cannot be overwritten, no type of legal amendment is retrospective," Orban said.

Last year, most EU states approved the redistribution of 160,000 migrants, many fleeing war in Syria, among the member states.

The deal is aimed at easing pressure on the bloc's worst migration crisis since 1945.

But progress has been slow, with eastern and central European countries vehemently opposed.

Hungary has not accepted a single one of the 2,300 refugees allocated to the country under the scheme and instead joined Slovakia in filing a legal challenge against it.

The European Commission, the EU's executive body, said on Monday there was "no silver bullet" to solving the migration crisis, but that "a holistic approach" was required.

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