French defence minister quits over new EU fake jobs inquiry

AFP

© Bertrand Guay, AFP | Former French defence minister Sylvie Goulard during a ceremony in the Paris suburb of Suresnes on June 18, 2017.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-06-20

French Defence Minister Sylvie Goulard announced her resignation on Tuesday over a fake jobs scandal that has hit her small centrist MoDem party, allied with President Emmanuel Macron’s party.

Goulard, who was previously a member of the European Parliament, said she could not remain in the government while there was a possibility that she could be investigated over alleged misuse of expenses at that parliament.

Her resignation comes as Macron carries out a minor reshuffle of his government following parliamentary elections on Sunday which handed him and his allies MoDem a commanding majority.

François Bayrou, Justice Minister, Marielle de Sarnez, State Sec for EU, are both cited in the case & could be forced to step down.

“Old” politics coming back to bite Rep. en Marche! And a real question of the usefulness/efficiency of ex ante verification…

Goulard had only been in the defence job for a month following Macron’s election to the presidency.

But she said the possibility of an investigation made it difficult for her to stay in the post given Macron’s agenda to clean up politics.

“The president is committed to restoring confidence in public office, reforming France and relaunching Europe,” she said in a statement.

“This reform agenda must take precedence over any personal considerations.

“That is why I have asked the president, with the agreement of the prime minister, to leave the government.”

Earlier this month, Paris prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into claims in the Canard Enchaine newspaper that MoDem was using European parliamentary funds to pay staff based in France.

MoDem’s leader Francois Bayrou was a key backer of Macron’s one-year-old Republic on the Move (REM) during the presidential campaign and whose support was crucial in winning centrist votes for the new president.

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