World Bulletin / News Desk
Gen. Pierre de Villiers quit over the president’s plans to make 850 million euros ($980 million) worth of cuts to the military.
“In the current circumstances, I see myself as no longer able to guarantee the robust defence force I believe is necessary to guarantee the protection of France and the French people, today and tomorrow, and to sustain the aims of our country,” he said in a statement.
De Villiers, 61, is the first military chief to stand down in the history of the Fifth Republic, established in 1958.
The general, who had his role extended by a year on June 30, said he had handed in his resignation to the president on Wednesday morning, which Macron accepted.
Last week, de Villiers contested the cuts, part of 60 billion euros ($69 billion) in budget savings Macron hopes to make over five years, in a closed parliamentary hearing, the details of which were later leaked.
Macron responded publicly on Friday by telling officers at the Defence Ministry: “I am your boss.”
He added: “For me it is undignified to hold certain debates in the public arena. I need no pressure, no commentary.”
Macron later told a newspaper that, in the case of a dispute between the head of the armed forces and the president, “it is the chief of staff who will change his position.”
A new armed forces chief is expected to be named later Wednesday.