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Hollande brings former PM back in from the cold

French President Francois Hollande has chosen former prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to take over as foreign minister, several sources said Thursday.

Hollande brings former PM back in from the cold
Jean-Marc Ayrault. Photo: AFP
Ayrault, 66, served as the prime minister of France between 2012 and 2014.
 
In a minor government shake-up, Hollande also named a member of the French Greens Party (EELV), Emmanuelle Cosse, as housing minister.
 
Two other ecologist politicians were named as under-secretaries in the new government.
 
While the reshuffle is President Hollande's effort to gather fresh political momentum with just 15 months left in office, French political analyst Bruno Cautres said that Thursday's changes were practically useless. 
 
“I really think it's pointless, it won't change anything at all. The key ministers pretty much all remain in their same places,” he told The Local.
 
“It's too late for Hollande. He won't be able to make any changes in time for the elections in 2017.”
 
An opinion poll by the Liberation newspaper published this week showed some 75 percent of people do not want Hollande to be re-elected.
   
Record unemployment figures of about 10 percent are also haunting Hollande, who vowed at the start of his mandate that he would not run again if he failed to improve the jobless rate.

   

The reshuffle comes just one day after Laurent Fabius confirmed he was stepping aside from the foreign minister post.
 
Fabius, whose departure had long been rumoured, simply replied “yes” when journalists asked if he was taking part in his final cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
 
 

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POLITICS

French police hold 10 over Channel boat disaster

French police were holding 10 people suspected of involvement in the November 2021 Channel drowning of migrants in which 27 people died, a judicial source said on Thursday.

French police hold 10 over Channel boat disaster

One has been charged with manslaughter and people-trafficking, and the nine others were to be taken before a judge who will decide whether to charge them as well, the source said, asking not to be named.

Police had arrested 15 people suspected of involvement overnight Sunday to Monday, but released five of them without charges.

The death of the 27 in late November was the worst disaster in the Channel since 2018, when the narrow strait became a key route for migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia who have been increasingly using small boats to reach England from France.

Among the 27 — aged seven to 47 — were 16 Iraqi Kurds, four Afghans, three Ethiopians, one Somali, one Egyptian and one Vietnamese migrant.

Only two people survived the disaster, which sparked tension between the British and French governments, with President Emmanuel Macron vowing France would not allow the Channel to become a “cemetery”.

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