Fresh headache for Macron as another minister quits

Mr Gerard Collomb quit as France's Interior Minister yesterday, the third minister to resign in two months. His departure adds to the woes of President Emmanuel Macron, who faces record low approval ratings.
Mr Gerard Collomb quit as France's Interior Minister yesterday, the third minister to resign in two months. His departure adds to the woes of President Emmanuel Macron, who faces record low approval ratings.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • French President Emmanuel Macron was left scrambling to fill another key Cabinet post yesterday after Interior Minister Gerard Collomb resigned, the third minister to step down in two months.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe took temporary control of the interior ministry while Mr Macron began searching for a replacement for 71-year-old Mr Collomb, who was one of the first politicians to back him for president.

The fate of Mr Collomb, nicknamed "France's top cop" because his ministry is in charge of security and immigration, has thrown the government into flux.

Mr Macron initially refused his resignation on Monday but on Tuesday night gave in to Mr Collomb's request to be allowed to run again for his former job as mayor of the eastern city of Lyon.

The Liberation newspaper said the back-and-forth was "extraordinary dilly-dallying which seems more like something from a music-hall than government politics".

Mr Collomb's departure adds to the woes of the France's centrist leader, who is battling record low approval ratings after 17 months in power. It comes just weeks after popular environment minister Nicolas Hulot resigned live on radio without warning Mr Macron, saying he felt "all alone" in the government on green issues.

A stony-faced Mr Philippe vowed at a handover ceremony yesterday to "maintain the highest level of security for French people" while in charge of the interior ministry.

 
 

Mr Collomb, a political heavyweight, had indicated two weeks ago that he intended to step down next year to run for his old job in Lyon. But he came under pressure to resign immediately.

He has previously compared his relationship with Mr Macron, 31 years his junior, to that of a father and son, and wept during the new President's inauguration in May last year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2018, with the headline 'Fresh headache for Macron as another minister quits'. Print Edition | Subscribe