French President Francois Hollande on Monday asked Prime Minister Manuel Valls to form a new government after a showdown between Valls and Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg over economic policy.

 Mr Francois Hollande
Mr Francois Hollande

The presidency made the announcement after the prime minister presented his resignation and that of his ministers Monday morning after a weekend of criticism from the leftist Montebourg.

Hollande immediately reappointed Valls as prime minister and tasked him with forming a team “that is coherent with the positions that he [Hollande] defined for our country,” the presidency said.

The new cabinet is to be unveiled Tuesday.

Valls’ move, which appeared aimed at showing he will not brook dissent from his ministers, took France by surprise.

It came after Montebourg demanded a major shift away from the government’s deficit-reduction policy. In an interview in the Sunday edition of Le Monde, the Socialist minister declared France should “raise its voice” with Germany.

“France has no vocation to align itself with the ideological axioms of the German right,” he said.

“That would mean that even when the French vote for the French left, in truth they’re voting for the programme of the German right,” he said. “We cannot accept that.”

At a meeting Sunday with a group of supporters, he reiterated his criticism with the backing of Education Minister Benoit Hamon.

Valls declared Montebourg had “crossed a yellow line” but gave no indication he was planning to go as far as tender his resignation.

Former interior minister Valls is seen as a strict disciplinarian. Hollande named him prime minister on March 31 in the hope of restoring confidence in the government after the Socialists received a drubbing in local elections.

 

 

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