Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

France's Macron mixes political shades in ministerial appointments

France's Macron mixes political shades in ministerial appointments

Collomb said his duty will be to protect the French people, to fight terrorism and to prevent youth from falling "in the grip" of the Islamic State group.

France hit in 2015 a record high of €16.9 billion (U.S. $18.8 billion) in foreign arms sales, with Le Drian playing a key role in forging strong ties with political leaders.

Meanwhile, French Polynesia's president Edouard Fritch has given his full backing to the new president, saying there is a shared vision of how Tahiti can help Mr Macron's new strategy for Europe.

Le Drian says he expects France to play a crucial role in a "complex, fragile, unstable worldwide situation". The remaining seven ministers are not attached to any political movement.

Half of the appointees announced Wednesday are men and half are women.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, who served as defence minister under Macron's predecessor, Francois Hollande, was named minister for Europe and foreign affairs under Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

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His appointment of Le Maire as economy minister and fellow Republicans MP Gerald Darmanin as public accounts minister was seen as an attempt to neuter his right-wing opponents, still reeling from their defeat in the presidential vote.

Newly-inaugurated Macron has redefined history, as this is the first time in modern French political history that a president willingly appoints a prime minister from outside his camp.

Olympic fencing champion Laura Flessel was named sports minister, star environmentalist Nicolas Hulot - who had spurned multiple offers of cabinet roles from previous presidents - accepted the ecology brief and crusading publisher Francoise Nyssen took charge of culture.

So far his appointments to his presidential team have all been men under 50, majority graduates like him of France's elite ENA college for senior public servants, which has turned out generations of French politicians.

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.

France, he said, "is today the only big country in the European Union that, for more than 30 years, has not succeeded in beating the problem of mass unemployment".

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France's new president has unveiled his cabinet ministers on Wednesday, selecting a mix of political hues to broaden his support.

After campaigning for Socialist prime minister Michel Rocard as a youth, he switched to the right, becoming a close ally of centre-right former prime minister Alain Juppe.

He supervised French military operations in Mali, Central African Republic, Iraq and Syria.

The armed forces are now led by centrist, pro-European Sylvie Goulard, 52. Since January 2015, she led Business France, a public agency in charge of promoting French companies overseas and attracting foreign investments.

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

This item has been corrected to show that Goulard is 52 years old, not 59.

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