dglobalnews.com French general resigns after bitter row with Macron
Published: Thu, July 20, 2017
Global Media | By Cecelia Webb

French general resigns after bitter row with Macron

French general resigns after bitter row with Macron

France's military chief resigned on Wednesday after a debate with President Emmanuel Macron over defence budget cuts.

"Consequently, I assumed my responsibilities by presenting the resignation to the President of the Republic today, which he accepted", including an official press release published by General Villiers. Teachers and local government workers are also gearing up for a fight.

De Villiers, appearing before a closed-door hearing of parliamentarians - had used strong language to protest at the 850 million euro ($A1.24 billion) defence budget cut Macron was making as part of his efforts to rein in state spending.

The President also warned the chief in a media interview, saying, "If the [military] chief of staff has an issue with the President of the Republique, the chief of staff will be changed".

Macron, 39, replied later that "I am the boss" and criticized the 60-year-old general for dragging the budget row into the "public sphere". "I am your leader", he added. "I don't need any comment".

The development is a new obstacle for the recently elected president. When his first act was to cut €850m for many - not just in the armed forces - that felt like a betrayal. The general, who was appointed head of the military in February 2014 and had his tenure extended by Mr Macron in June, had previously spoken out on budget cuts. He promised a big increase in the defence budget over the next eight years. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members are committed to spending 2 per cent.

He will be Gen François Lecointre, Agence France-Presse reported, citing government sources.

French general resigns after bitter row with Macron

On Wednesday, Macron stood by his handling of the disagreement, telling France 2 television that de Villiers was a "fine soldier" it was "not the role" of the chief of staff to question the budget. Respondents with a poor opinion of Mr Macron cited arrogance, authoritarianism and excessive attention to communication.

Let there be no doubt who is in charge of France.

Macron has promised to boost defense spending to 2 percent of GDP by 2025 as part of France's commitments to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but his budget minister last week announced limits on this year's military expenses.

Figures from the European Commission showed last week that France might soon be the only EU country in breach of its budgetary rules.

François Baroin, head of the French mayors' association and an opponent of Mr Macron, said the government could no longer keep "wiping its feet" on local communities.

The clash on military spending comes as the French president attempts to reconcile competing election promises.

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