Macron blocks interior minister resignation bid

French President Emmanuel Macron sits next to Interior Minister Gerard Collomb (left) as he leads the last cabinet meeting before the government goes on holidays at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, on Aug 3, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - French President Emmanuel Macron refused to accept the resignation of his interior minister Monday (Oct 1), in the latest sign of uncertainty at the heart of the government after two high profile cabinet ministers stepped down.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, viewed as one of Macron's most loyal ministers and a heavyweight in his cabinet, has been under pressure to relinquish his post immediately since he announced in September that he would quit the ministry to run for his old job as mayor of Lyon in eastern France in 2020.

"In the face of attacks on the minister since he confirmed he would be a candidate, when the time comes, to be mayor of Lyon, the President of the Republic renewed his confidence in him and asked him to remain fully mobilised in his mission to keep France secure," the presidency told AFP.

Collomb, 71, previously served as Lyon mayor for 16 years until Macron poached him for the interior ministry, and it has long been rumoured that he was eyeing a fourth term running the city.

According to French newspaper La Figaro, he tendered his resignation Monday.

The upset comes just weeks after Macron's popular environment minister Nicolas Hulot quit, followed by a second popular member of the cabinet, former Olympic fencing champion Laura Flessel, who resigned as sports minister.

Macron, 40, came to power promising to clean up politics and revive France's sputtering economy.

But over a year into his term polls suggest the French starting to sour on the energetic centrist, with his approval ratings diving in recent weeks.

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