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French interior minister Cazeneuve succeeds Valls as prime minister

6 December 2016 17:00

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Bernard Cazeneuve has been appointed as France’s new prime minister as socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced his resignation in preparation for next year’s presidential election.

Valls declared his candidacy on Monday a few days after President Francois Hollande said he would not run for a second term. The prime minister said that he would seek the Socialist Party’s nomination, and would quit the government to focus on campaigning.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls attends a news conference to announce that he is a candidate for January’s Socialist presidential primary at the town hall in Evry, near Paris, France, December 5, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

Cazeneuve, France’s interior minister and one of President Hollande’s most loyal lieutenants, was named as Valls’ successor for six months until the following legislative elections. The parliamentary polls are scheduled for June next year, after the two-round presidential elections in April and May.

Cazeneuve, 53, a popular figure in French politics is known for his accomplishments in the handling of France terrorist attacks over the past two years. He was also put in charge of the state of emergency following the attacks left 130 people dead in Paris in November 2015.

Nevertheless, it is said that if Valls wins the socialist nomination, he will face Francois Fillon of the center-right Republicans and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. However, France’s ruling Socialist Party is still in disarray over who should be the party’s candidate.

Valls will have to compete against former economy minister Arnaud Montebourg, his chief rival, for the party’s nomination. Polls suggest the two men barely stand a chance of running against Fillon or Le Pen.

Hollande, is known to be the most unpopular leader in the country’s modern history, owing to the high unemployment and weak economic growth.

Security concerns in the wake of the Paris terror attacks are also among the reasons the president has fallen out of favor.

This is the first time since 1958 that a sitting French president has not sought to run for a second term.

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