Monday, 29 May, 2017

New French government unveiled, Le Drian foreign minister

Edouard Philippe is currently mayor of Le Havre Edouard Philippe is currently mayor of Le Havre
Melinda Barton | 19 May, 2017, 05:26

French President Macron on Wednesday unveiled a gender-balanced cabinet in accordance with an earlier pledge, with 11 of 22 new ministerial posts taken by women.

Other key figures instrumental in Macron's sensational victory in this month's election were given senior roles, with the Socialist mayor of Lyon, Gerard Collomb, named as interior minister while centrist ally Francois Bayrou becomes justice minister.

The 69-year-old is also considered France's super salesman - selling Rafales fighter jets to Egypt, India, Qatar and submarines to Australia.

NAN reports that of the 12,000 French troops engaged in peacekeeping operations around the world, almost half are deployed in Africa in both military and advisory capacities. During his five years as defense minister under former president Francois Hollande, Le Drian supervised military operations in Mali, Central African Republic, Iraq, and Syria.

Le Drian vowed to promote the country's "key role" in the global community, noting continuity between his previous position and his new diplomatic job.

Sylvie Goulard, a 52-year-old centrist MEP from the southern city of Marseille, is little known to the French public, having spent much of her career in Brussels.

High-profile conservative Bruno Le Maire (Le-mare) was the pick for the Finance Ministry.

The Cabinet includes 18 ministers and 4 junior ministers, half of them women and half men.

On Sunday, Macron, who won the French runoff election on May 7, securing over 66 percent of votes, officially assumed office and on Monday, the new president announced that Philippe, the mayor of Le Havre and member of The Republicans' party, would serve as prime minister of the country.

On the other side of the political divide, Macron's decision not to put up an REM candidate to oppose former Socialist prime minister Manuel Valls in his constituency ties Valls closer and makes it hard for a divided left to re-unite. To meet that goal, he appointed well-known environmentalist Nicolas Hulot as ecology minister and a publisher as culture minister.

Muriel Penicaud, the new labor minister, previously worked for food corporation Danone and French telecommunications group Orange. She started her professional career at the French Foreign Affairs Ministry, where she was a member of the team that negotiated the consequences of Germany's reunification in 1989-1990. Macron is known as a passionate literature lover.

Both are liberals who supported the labor and tax reforms Macron enacted as Hollande's economy minister.

"In government, you will see that a lot of the inner circle will drop out", Christophe Castaner, Macron's campaign spokesman, told journalists on the sidelines of the inaugural ceremony.

Macron founded the party En Marche! just ahead of the presidential elections, and so his nascent organization is at a colossal disadvantage in these crucial parliamentary elections, where all 577 seats are up for grabs. He might have to form a coalition government or have a government led by an opposition party.

Macron, in his third day in office, will host European Council President Donald Tusk at the Elysee Palace for a private dinner.

One Republican accused the new president of "blowing up" the political landscape.