New French president holds first Cabinet meeting

New French president holds first Cabinet meeting

Newly inducted French President Emmanuel Macron appointed Sylvie Goulard as defense minister on Wednesday, moving the present post holder, Jean-Yves Le Drian, to head the Foreign Ministry.

Those who risk embarrassment include Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, who jumped ship from the Republicans to join Macron's Republique en Marche (REM) government, Richard Ferrand, the minister of the cohesion of territories, Annick Girardin, the minister for overseas territories and Marielle de Sarnez, the minister of European Affairs.

With much speculation about the government's political balance after the appointment of centre-right politician Edouard Philippe as prime minister, newspaper Le Monde counted six centre-left ministers as opposed to two from the centre-right.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, outgoing Socialist defence minister and a close friend of ex-President Francois Hollande, became foreign minister and minister for Europe.

Notable in this regard are the appointments of Republican Bruno La Maire, former Agriculture Minister during the Nicolas Sarkozy presidency, as Economy Minister, and Gerald Darmanin, an LR functionary, as Budget Minister. Nicolas Hulot, a veteran ecologist activist, was named as ecology minister.

Macron also tried to create a gender-balanced cabinet, 11 out of 22 ministerial posts were taken by women.

Also, an Olympic fencer, Laura Flessel, was named Minister for Sport, a publisher, Francoise Nyssen, will be Minister for Culture and a medical professor, Agnes Buzyn, is now Health Minister.

German chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and French president Emmanuel Macron (L) attend a joint press conference at the German Chancellory in Berlin, Germany, 15 May 2017.

'White House adviser is person of interest in Russian Federation probe'
The appointment has drawn generally favourable comments from Democrats and from some Republicans as well. Mr Rosenstein reportedly spoke to the new, cover-up investigation in one of these briefings.

France's new President will hope his team delivers a majority in the parliamentary elections in June.

Some French political reporters said that Macron's office called their media organization to designate specific journalists who will be able to cover Macron's first trip outside Europe, scheduled in Mali on Friday.

Ahead of legislative elections in June, Republican party campaign chief François Baroin accused Macron of "putting a bomb under politics rather than remodelling it".

"This shows Europe is the priority", a French diplomatic source said.

Sylvie Goulard, a centrist MEP, was named Defence Minister.

A European lawmaker who speaks four languages, Goulard is respected in Brussels as a straight talker, having acted as adviser to former European Commission president Romano Prodi. One diplomat said the changes in president and ministers would enable a review of Paris' positioning on key issues such as the crises in Syria and Libya.

No sooner was Macron elected on May 7 than Le Maire was offering his services.

Mr Macron has pledged to fight corruption after tax evasion and other scandals hit the previous government.

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