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French PM, Philippe, resigns

The French government led by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe submitted its resignation Friday ahead of a cabinet reshuffle to be announced “in the coming hours,” the presidency said.

No reason was given in the short statement, but a shake-up had been widely expected after French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to chart a new course for the last two years of his term.

Speculation that Philippe could be on the way out mounted this week after Macron’s centrist party was routed in municipal elections last Sunday and Greens took control of several major cities.

But Philippe, a rightwing politician who never joined Macron’s Republic on the Move party, easily won his bid to become mayor of Le Havre.

In theory, Philippe can name a stand-in for the mayor’s post so he can remain prime minister, though Macron may prefer to burnish his social justice credentials with a more centrist or leftwing pick.

In an interview with regional newspapers publishing late Thursday, Macron said France must prepare for a “very difficult” economic crisis, “so we have to chart a new course.”

“I see this based on an economic, social, environmental and cultural reconstruction,” he said. “Behind this, there will be a new team.”

(AFP)