Fresh blow to French cabinet, interior minister resigns

France's President Emmanuel Macron accepted on Wednesday the resignation of his interior minister Gerard Collomb after he had earlier refused to allow his loyal ally to quit, news wires reported.

Collomb, a political heavyweight, had previously announced that he planned to run for his old job as mayor of the city of Lyon. He said he would stay on as minister until European elections in May, but came under pressure to step down immediately as critics complained that his priorities had already turned to the campaign trail. Late Monday, Macron's office said the president had vetoed his resignation attempt. But Collomb on Tuesday had said he still intended to quit, throwing the French political establishment into confusion. PM Minister Edouard Philippe cancelled a trip to South Africa planned for Thursday and Friday after being asked to step in, his office said. Under the French constitution, the president names and removes ministers upon instructions from the premier.

Collomb has previously compared his relationship with Macron, 31 years his junior, to that of a father and son. He wept during Macron's inauguration in May 2017. But their relationship is reported to have soured this summer over a scandal surrounding Macron's former security aide Alexandre Benalla.

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