French armed forces leader resigns over budget cuts

GETTYThe City of London has been established as a global financial centre for at least 200 years

GETTYThe City of London has been established as a global financial centre for at least 200 years

Francois Lecointre, a career military officer who led the European Union military training mission in Mali, is to be named France's new military official, after his predecessor quit in a dispute with President Emmanuel Macron.

After his unbent take, many were angry with the president for publically aspersing the military chief.

General Francois Lecointre, a career military officer, was named Frances military chief after his predecessor resigned on Wednesday after a clash with President Emmanuel Macron over proposed cuts in military spending.

In a statement, General Pierre de Villiers said he had tried to maintain a French defence force with the ability to do an increasingly hard job within the financial constraints imposed on it, but was no longer able to sustain that.

Mr. Macron quickly announced that Gen. Fran├žois Lecointre, who heads Prime Minister Edouard Philippe's defense cabinet, will replace Villiers.

Mr. Macron has also promised tax cuts for businesses and households to spur France's sluggish economic recovery.

France's defence spending was expected to be 1.78 per cent of gross domestic product this year, down from 1.96 per cent in 2010, despite heavy commitments including operations in Syria and sub-Saharan Africa. When Gen de Villiers criticised the cut last week, it was at a meeting with deputies that was supposed to be off the record.

Without naming him directly, Macron then publicly upbraided de Villiers to military officials, saying, "it is not dignified to air certain debates in the public sphere".

And in an interview published Sunday, Macron said: "If something comes in between the military chief of staff and the president, the military chief of staff [must] change". "You can not publicly question a military leader like that in front of his subordinates". What are the defence cuts all about?

The president also reiterated his promise to raise the defence budget again in 2018. His government said last week it needs to find EUR20 billion of savings next year alone to meet its objectives.

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".

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