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France

Bernard Cazeneuve named French PM after Valls quits

France's interior minister will replace Manuel Valls as prime minister, according to the French presidential office. Valls has just quit to seek the Socialist nomination in next year's presidential election.

Frankreich Premierminister Valls mit Innenminister Cazeneuve nach Kabinettssitzung (Getty Images/AFP/B. Guay)

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (left) with Bernard Cazeneuve (right)

The office of outgoing French President Francois Hollande named Cazeneuve as replacement premier on Tuesday as Valls went ahead with his resignation to concentrate on his run for president.

Valls had announced his candidacy for next April's French presidential election on Monday. The move followed Hollande's disclosure last week that he would not run for a second term.

Cazeneuve, 53, is a close ally of Hollande and championed the French state's fight against Islamic extremism in his role as interior minister over the past two years.

"He's a strong personality, with experience of state affairs," said a source in the president's entourage.

Hollande's office said Valls' resignation had been accepted. 

Bruno Le Roux (picture alliance/dpa/T. Padilla)

Bruno Le Roux is France's new interior minister

"The President of the Republic has appointed Bernard Cazeneuve as prime minister and asked him to form the new government," said the presidential office.

His replacement as interior minister would be Bruno Le Roux, who has led the Socialist Party group in France's lower house of parliament, the office added.
 

Polls put Fillon ahead of Le Pen

Valls faces the task of uniting Socialists to give them a chance to stay at the Elysee Palace.

That's despite current opinion polls suggesting the second round of next year's presidential election could pit Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, against conservative Francois Fillon.

A survey published Tuesday showed that Fillon would beat far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of next year's presidential election with 65 percent of the vote.

The Ifop-Fiducial poll for iTele, Paris Match and Sud Radio also said that no candidate from the Socialist party would do better than coming fifth.

In a combative speech on Monday, 54-year-old Valls vowed to take the fight to the conservative opposition and the far-right National Front, who are both leading the Socialists in election polls.

Kombobild Marine Le Pen und Francois Fillon (picture-alliance/abaca/E. Blondet/A. Abd Rabbo)

Survey: Fillon (right) would beat Len Pen (left)

Analysts predict that the far-right party could win up to three regions in provincial voting later this month, unless Hollande's Socialists and the center-right coalition under former president Nicholas Sarkozy's join forces to prevent it.

Macron also likely to win against Le Pen

During the online survey, some 3,200 people were asked how they would vote if next April's first round of the election were to be held next Sunday.

The questions were posed after Hollande said he would not run again and before his Valls said he would seek election.

The poll also showed independent candidate Emmanuel Macron winning 62 percent against Le Pen, should he reach a second round run-off.

ipj/kms (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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