Heavyweight Macron ally will not join new French cabinet

AFP - [email protected]
Heavyweight Macron ally will not join new French cabinet
Francois Bayrou. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

A heavyweight politician close to France's President Emmanuel Macron has said that he would not be joining the government as part of an imminent cabinet reshuffle.


Francois Bayrou, a former minister and head of the centrist MoDem party, had been among the possible candidates in the new line-up after he was acquitted in a case of fraudulent employment this week.

"I will not enter government," Bayrou told AFP, blaming a lack of "profound agreement on policy to follow".

He said he had been interested in the education ministry, whose current minister has been at the centre of several controversies.

"But many discussions have led me to conclude there was a difference in approach on the method to follow that appeared to me to be a deal-breaker," said Bayrou, who was education minister for four years in the 1990s.

He said he was offered the defence ministry but refused because it was, "the sector in French politics doing the best at the moment".

The prime minister's office did not respond to a request for comment.

The new cabinet line-up had been expected on Wednesday, but sources close to the president said in the evening an announcement looked more likely for Thursday.

Macron reshuffled the cabinet with a tilt to the right on January 11 after naming Gabriel Attal, 34, as France's youngest and first openly gay prime minister.


But more than a dozen junior ministers still need to be named to complete the reshuffle, and rumours have swirled that newly appointed Education Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera might lose her job.

A former junior tennis champion, Oudea-Castera was last month put in charge of education as well as her previous brief of sports ahead of the Summer Olympics in Paris.

But a series of controversies - including her insistence that she sent one of her children to a private school because of lost teaching hours - have meant her position has been shaky ever since.

Bayrou was acquitted on Monday in a seven-year case over the fraudulent employment of parliamentary assistants by his party, with the judge ruling he was owed the "benefit of the doubt".

A three-time presidential candidate, Bayrou was named justice minister by Macron when he took the presidency in 2017.

He resigned the same year when the legal case was opened against him but has remained a key behind-the-scenes ally of the president.

An Elysee Palace advisor who asked not to be named had told AFP his name was on the table.


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