Chirac's whizz-kid is new interior minister

26th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 26, 2007 (AFP) - France's new interior minister Francois Baroin is a high-flying protege of President Jacques Chirac who had his first cabinet post at the age of just 30.

PARIS, March 26, 2007 (AFP) - France's new interior minister Francois Baroin is a high-flying protege of President Jacques Chirac who had his first cabinet post at the age of just 30.

Now aged 41, Baroin has been overseas territories minister since 2005 -- notably handling the outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease chikungunya on the Indian ocean island of Reunion.

Born in 1965, Baroin is the son of Michel Baroin, a senior civil servant and president of the media chain FNAC who died in a plane crash in Africa in 1987.

The elder Baroin was a close friend of Chirac, and on his death the future president took the son under his political wing.

Baroin was Chirac's campaign spokesman in the 1995 presidential election and after his victory took a junior post in the new government -- becoming the youngest minister since World War II.

While remaining loyal to Chirac, he has also maintained links with the president's long-standing rival, Nicolas Sarkozy, who handed over the interior ministry post Monday to concentrate on his presidential election bid.

"In politics there are two choices: either you put oil on the cogs or you put oil on the fire. It's my nature to oil the cogs," Baroin said recently.

A divorced father of three, Baroin was recently linked romantically with television journalist Marie Drucker -- who as a result had to suspend her job on an evening news show until after the presidential election.

Baroin's fresh-faced looks and round glasses have earned him the nickname of "Harry Potter", but colleagues say he is a consummate political operator. According to a profile in Les Echos newspaper, he is a fan of techno music.

His first job as interior minister will be to organise the elections on April 22 and May 6, on the results of which his future tenure at the ministry will depend.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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