French general resigns after bitter row with Macron

Geneva Matthews
July 20, 2017

It is the first sign of the heavy opposition Mr Macron is likely to face as he seeks to cut €60 billion of public spending over five years to stay within the EU's deficit limit, which is 3 per cent of economic output.

Macron, he said, had named Lecointre and also told ministers at a weekly cabinet meeting that he was still aiming to raise the defence budget to 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2025 despite cutbacks in 2017.

Balkans war veteran General Francois Lecointre has been nominated as Gen de Villiers' successor.

De Villiers, who has been in the position since 2014, added that he could no longer perform the functions of the job.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the far-left France Unbowed movement, opined that de Villers' was correct to speak "frankly" during the closed door parliamentary defense meeting about budget cuts.

Macron's own behavior has elicited criticism, notably by those who accuse him of authoritarian tendencies after he overwhelmingly won election in May and saw his new centrist party dominate last month's parliamentary elections.

Despite promising to increase the military budget to 2 percent of gross domestic product - in line with France's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation obligations and U.S. President Donald Trump's demands - Macron chose to cut the military's budget this year by €850 million to keep within the European Union's 3 percent of GDP deficit cap.

It is unclear how these pledges played into Gen de Villiers' thinking, although he told MPs last week: "I know when I am being had".

On Friday, de Villiers wrote on his Facebook, "no one deserves to be blindly followed", referring to the French president.

During the parade, Macron rode down the Champs-Elysees avenue in an open-topped military vehicle with a grim-faced de Villiers as Trump looked on.

Nuclear-armed France and Britain are the biggest military powers in the European Union.

Some 4,000 French soldiers are involved in efforts to stop the spread of extremism in West Africa.

France has been under a state of emergency since November 2015 when Islamic State extremists killed 130 people in a series of coordinated attacks on the Bataclan theatre and bars and cafes in Paris.

Other reports by VideoGamingPros

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