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Macron Begins Government Reshuffle     10/16 06:17

   PARIS (AP) -- French president Emmanuel Macron has appointed a high-profile 
political ally to the key post of interior minister during a limited cabinet 
reshuffle aimed at preparing for upcoming economic and social reforms.

   Christophe Castaner, 52, who heads Macron's party La Republique en Marche 
(Republic on the Move), replaces Gerard Collomb who resigned two weeks ago to 
run for mayor of the city of Lyon.

   Four other government members were replaced during Tuesday's reshuffle, 
including the culture and agriculture ministers. The key members of the 
government, including the finance and foreign affairs ministers, retained their 
positions.

   Macron also appointed new junior ministers focusing mainly on economic 
matters and fighting poverty.

   The new jobs mean the size of the government expands to 34 members, split 
equally between men and women, from 29 before --- excluding Prime Minister 
Edouard Philippe.

   The reshuffle is seen as an attempt by Macron to regain the initiative 
following a period during which he has seen his popularity plummet and three 
ministers, including Collomb, resign.

   Macron's office said the changes are intended to accompany further reforms. 
Macron, who was elected last year on a platform to reform the French economy, 
has pledged to make changes to unemployment benefits and streamline the pension 
system by next summer.

   Often perceived as a "president of the rich" for cutting taxes on the 
wealthy and pushing pro-business policies that favor investors and 
entrepreneurs, Macron is increasingly described by opponents as arrogant and 
aloof.

   Macron created a new job of junior minister at the solidarity and health 
ministry that will focus on the fight against poverty. The finance ministry is 
strengthened with junior ministers focusing on industry policy and the digital 
economy. The position of junior minister for gender equality Marlene Schiappa 
is enlarged to include all fights against discrimination.

   The chief of France's domestic intelligence service Laurent Nunez was also 
named as a junior interior minister.


(KA)

 
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