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Hollande axes PM after election debacle by Angus

Published on Apr 1, 2014 12:42 AM

PARIS (AFP) - French President Francois Hollande has reacted to a humiliating setback at the polls by appointing popular Interior Minister Manuel Valls as his new prime minister, sources told AFP on Monday.

Hollande, who was expected to confirm the move in an address to the nation at 1800 GMT, decided to axe current Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault after his Socialist Party lost more than 150 towns and cities to the main opposition and far-right in municipal elections on Sunday.

Officials at the prime minister's official residence, Matignon, confirmed that Ayrault and the government he headed had resigned.

Waking up to headlines that included "A rout", "A slap" and "A kick up the backside", Hollande was left with little option but to order a radical shake-up of his deeply unpopular government, which is seen by many voters as drifting hopelessly in the face of a stagnant economy, persistently high unemployment and falling living standards for many people.

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