French junior ministers resign over spending scandals

Sarkozy hinted last week that there could be a government reshuffle in October.

French junior ministers resign over spending scandals

Two French junior ministers resigned on Sunday over spending scandals, a move likely to embarrass President Nicolas Sarkozy's unpopular government at a time when it is preaching sobriety and austerity.

A statement from Sarkozy's office said state secretary for overseas development Alain Joyandet and Christian Blanc, state secretary for the Greater Paris region, had resigned.

Joyandet drew criticism after he chartered a private jet for 116,500 euros ($142,500) to attend a meeting in Martinique, while Blanc bought 12,000 euros worth of Havana cigars with taxpayers' money.

Media revelations of wasted public funds have prompted a government clampdown on perks, although not on the scale of Britain's expenses scandal last year when leaked details of deputies' dubious claims caused an outcry.

Sarkozy, facing plummeting approval ratings and a widespread backlash over his pension reform plans, hinted last week that there could be a government reshuffle in October.

Meanwhile, one of his inner circle and the architect of the unpopular reforms -- Labour Minister Eric Woerth -- has also become embroiled in a scandal over the finances of Europe's richest woman, Liliane Bettencourt.

Woerth's wife used to help manage Bettencourt's accounts and he has been accused of a conflict of interest for having failed to order a tax investigation into the elderly billionaire when he served as budget minister from 2007 to March 2010. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Socialist politician Jean-Christophe Cambelis said in a statement that the resignations came late and were distracting attention from the question of what should happen to Woerth.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Temmuz 2010, 12:25

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