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Macron takes power as president of France, vows to overcome divisions

Centrist Emmanuel Macron took power as president of France on Sunday in a sumptuous inauguration ceremony in the Elysee Palace presidential residence in Paris following his May 7 election victory.

 

UPDATE 1 Macron pledges to overcome division in society

New French President Emmanuel Macron, in his inaugural address, pledged on Sunday to work to overcome divisions in society which had been shown by the presidential election campaign and seek to build a strong France that was sure of itself in the world.

“The division and fractures in our society must be overcome,” said the 39-year-old centrist who was elected on May 7 after beating the far right leader Marine Le Pen following a bitter campaign that was dominated by France’s role in Europe and which blew apart the traditional party structure in France.

“The world and Europe need more than ever France, and a strong France, which speaks out loudly for freedom and solidarity,” Macron declared.

He said under his administration the labour market would be made more flexible, business-friendly conditions would be created to help companies function and “innovation” would be at the heart of his action as president.


On arriving for the ceremony at the 18th century palace, Macron, 39, a former investment banker and economy minister, held a private meeting with outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande on state affairs which included the transfer of access to France’s nuclear missile launch codes.

French President Emmanuel Macron appointed Alexis Kohler on Sunday as secretary general of the Elysee palace, the most powerful role among presidential staff, while career diplomat Philippe Etienne was named as his top foreign policy advisor.

Kohler, a 44-year old graduate of France’s elite ENA administrative school, was Macron’s chief of staff when the incoming president was economy minister and has worked for the Treasury.

He will be Macron’s right-hand man, the top official in the Elysee administration and a key political advisor who is typically the main contact point for ministries, parties, unions and business leaders and plays an important role in crafting policies.

Etienne, a 61-year old former ambassador well known both in Brussels and Berlin, was appointed to be the incoming president’s diplomatic advisor, Macron’s staff said. Also an ENA graduate, his nomination was immediately saluted in the EU capital.

“This is very good news. Philippe is an authority on EU affairs and a promoter of Franco-German friendship,” Martin Selmayr, the head of cabinet for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said on Twitter.

The news was also welcomed among French diplomats. “He is extremely well aware of EU affairs,” one senior diplomatic source said, calling him a skilled negotiator.

The appointments were announced as Macron readied for his inauguration as president on Sunday at a ceremony in the Elysee palace.

Macron will name a prime minister on Monday and the new government will be announced on Tuesday, a source said.

Macron became France’s youngest post-war leader and the first to be born after 1958 when President Charles de Gaulle put in place the Fifth Republic.

He officially became president when Laurent Fabius, chairman of the constitutional council and a former prime minister, read out the results of the election in which Macron beat far right leader Marine Le Pen.

Reuters

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