14:51 GMT +327 May 2019
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    French president Emmanuel Macron (L) speaks with La Republique en Marche (Republic on the Move - LREM) centrist party new leader Christophe Castaner, at the Elysee palace on november 20, 2017 in Paris.

    Macron Names Governing Party Chief New Interior Minister in Reshuffle

    © AFP 2019 / Ludovic Marin
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    The appointment of Macron's party chief and close ally is widely expected to strengthen his presidency in the wake of difficulties caused by the departure of former interior minister Gerard Collomb, who left the position to run for his old job as Mayor of Lyon.

    French President Emmanuel Macron has handpicked Christophe Castaner, chief of his ruling party La République En Marche! to the post of interior minister following a series of chaotic resignations in the government, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

    Castaner, 51, is one of Macron's most enduring allies; he had been a socialist for nearly three decades before he joined the 40-year-old centrist's presidential campaign in 2016.

    READ MORE: Key French Legislator Predicts 'Political Agony' for Macron

    Castaner's appointment was part of a major government shake-up, which included a new agriculture minister, culture minister and minister for overseas territories.

    An official in Macron's office heaped praise on the balance in France's cabinet."We have both incoming names with a reputation in their areas of expertise, which will strengthen the government's efficiency, and others who have a broader profile," the official said.

    Macron accepted the resignation of his early ally, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, on October 3. Collomb explained that he wanted to quit the post so that he could run for mayor in his hometown Lyon, a post he occupied from 2001 to 2017. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe had been in charge of the country's domestic policy until the replacement was found.

    Collomb's move was seen by critics as a huge blow to Macron's presidency as it came a few weeks after the president was forced to replace his environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, who blamed the government for failing to prioritize environmental issues, as well as sports minister Laura Flessel.

    The first major scandal of Macron's presidency broke out in July when his security aide, Alexandre Benalla, was caught on camera hitting a May Day protester. Additionally, concerns over France's economic slowdown and announced public spending cuts have affected the view French citizens have of their president.

    It emerged in September that Macron's approval rating was sliding. A poll conducted by the Institute of Opinion and Marketing Studies in France and Abroad revealed a sobering 31 percent approval rating, the lowest since he took office.

    reshuffle, appointment, minister, Gerard Colomb, Christophe Castaner, Emmanuel Macron, France
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