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FRENCH POLITICS

France’s outgoing FM says defeat of Australia’s Morrison ‘suits me fine’

France's outgoing foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Australia's conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison losing polls on Saturday "suits me fine".

Outgoing French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian leaves the ministry at the end of a handover ceremony at Foreign Affairs Ministry in Paris, on May 21st, 2022
Outgoing French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian leaves the ministry at the end of a handover ceremony at Foreign Affairs Ministry in Paris, on May 21st, 2022. Photo by Christophe PETIT TESSON / POOL / AFP

Canberra in September angered Paris by ditching a multibillion-dollar submarine contract with France in favour of a new deal negotiated in secret with the US and Britain.

“The prime minister’s defeat suits me fine,” Le Drian said.

“The actions taken at the moment when they were taken were of such brutality and cynicism, and I would even be tempted to say of unequivocal incompetence,” he added.

“I hope we can resume frank and constructive dialogue with Australia in the future,” he said, in comments to reporters as he handed over to his successor Catherine Colonna.

Le Drian accused Australia of back-stabbing and the United States of betrayal at the time.

Paris recalled its envoys to both Australia and the United States over the furore. But President Emmanuel Macron later ordered the French ambassador to Washington to return to his post after a call with US President Joe Biden.

Last month it was reported that Australia will be forced to pay up to €3.7 billion to exit the submarine deal with France.

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FRENCH POLITICS

French minister investigated after rape allegations

A junior minister in President Emmanuel Macron's government is under investigation after two allegations of rape were brought against her, French prosecutors have said.

French minister investigated after rape allegations

The allegations go back to when Chrysoula Zacharopoulou – who is now state secretary for development, Francophonie and international partnerships – worked as a gynaecologist, according to French magazine Marianne.

One complaint was lodged on May 25th and the investigation opened two days later, the prosecutors said. The second complaint was filed on June 16th.

Greece-born Zacharopoulou, 46, joined the government of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne in May, having been a member of the European Parliament for the previous three years. She reports to Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.

She gained prominence in 2015 by campaigning for greater public awareness of endometriosis together with actress Julie Gayet, who this year married former French president Francois Hollande.

Zacharopoulou was strongly involved in the UN’s COVAX coronavirus vaccine rollout effort, and has spoken out in favour of women’s reproductive rights.

These are not the first rape allegations to overshadow Macron’s government and come at a time of political difficulty for the president after he failed to retain a majority in parliamentary elections.

Prosecutors investigated Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin over an allegation for rape filed in 2017. He denied any wrongdoing and prosecutors in
January asked for the case to be dropped.

Rape allegations were also made against Solidarities minister Damien Abad last month but French prosecutors have said they were not currently opening an investigation.

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