Chirac laments treaty rejection
PARIS, May 29 (AFP) - The French rejection of the EU's first-ever constitution makes it harder for the country to defend its interests in Europe, President Jacques Chirac said Sunday.
“The decision of France inevitably creates a difficult context for defending our interests in Europe,” Chirac said in an address broadcast on national television.
In a brief televised address shortly after the release of exit polls indicating a massive rejection by French voters of the landmark EU charter, Chirac said he had taken note of the “sovereign decision” taken by voters.
The overwhelming rejection of the treaty by about 55 percent of voters constituted a slap in the face to Chirac, who had staked his prestige on approval of the treaty.
The 72-year-old French leader said he would take a decision on the future of his centre-right government “in the coming days”, hinting at an imminent cabinet reshuffle.
Commentators have repeatedly suggested that Chirac would dismiss Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, whose popularity rating stands at about 20 percent, no matter what the outcome of Sunday’s historic referendum.
Observers have tipped Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin and Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie as possible replacements.
Subject: French News