Sarkozy accepts French government's resignation
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Francois Fillon and his cabinet on Saturday, paving the way for a long-awaited cabinet reshuffle.
The resignation is a traditional formality, allowing the head of state to pick new ministers without having to fire his existing team, and government sources said Fillon was expected to be quickly re-appointed premier.
Then, he will assemble a new ministerial team for Sarkozy's approval, probably as soon as Monday. Most observers expect a smaller cabinet, drawn mainly from Sarkozy's right-wing majority party, the UMP.
Sarkozy first signalled in March that he plans to renew his cabinet, and there has been mounting political tension in recent months as his supporters jostle for places in the run-up to his expected 2012 re-election bid.
Fillon held meetings with Sarkozy at the latter's Elysee Palace offices twice on Saturday, an AFP photographer saw. He left at around 7:30 pm (1830 GMT), shortly before the presidency released a statement.
This statement said that, in accordance with article 8 of the French constitution, the president "accepted the resignation and thus brought to an end Francois Fillon's functions".
Earlier, former prime minister and current Bordeaux mayor Alain Juppe had tacitly confirmed that he expected to return to the government, reportedly to take charge of the defence ministry.
© 2010 AFP