Frontrunners for new government

17th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 17, 2007 (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected on Friday to announce the full line-up of his 15-member government, led by the moderate right-wing prime minister, Francois Fillon.

PARIS, May 17, 2007 (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected on Friday to announce the full line-up of his 15-member government, led by the moderate right-wing prime minister, Francois Fillon.

Here are the frontrunners for top posts in the new government, and the ministries they are tipped to lead:

Bernard Kouchner - foreign affairs

Kouchner, 67, is a world-renowned humanitarian who founded the Doctors without Borders (MSF) charity and served as the UN's representative in Kosovo -- and is also a prominent member of the opposition Socialist Party (PS).

His expected appointment -- in line with a pledge by Sarkozy to build a broad-based government -- has created bitter recrimination in left-wing ranks, where it is seen as a ploy to undermine the opposition ahead of parliamentary elections in June.

Kouchner is famous for developing the theory of "humanitarian intervention" to justify international action against dictators who flout human rights.

Favouring the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, he refused to condemn the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, instead criticising French policy which he said left the US and Britain with little choice but to go to war without UN backing.

Jean-Louis Borloo - economic strategy, business and employment

A 56 year-old former lawyer, Borloo is a political maverick who earned a reputation as the social conscience of the outgoing centre-right government. Minister of labour and social cohesion since 2004, he brought in a social action programe which he claims played a large part in the recent fall in unemployment.

Borloo waited until the last minute before backing Sarkozy and conditioned his support on the promise of a "Marshall Plan" to help job creation and urban regeneration in poor high-immigration suburbs.

Unmistakeable for his unkempt look and shaggy mop of hair, Borloo has a ruggedly independent streak. He is married to a top French the news anchor.

Alain Juppe - sustainable development, energy and transport

Juppe, 61, is a close ally of former president Jacques Chirac who was forced to withdraw from politics for a time after taking the rap in a party finance scandal in 2004.

Serving as foreign minister then prime minister under Chirac in the 1990s, Juppe tried to introduce economic reforms but backed down in the face of mass street protests.

Once seen as Chirac's heir at the head of the French right, Juppe suffered from a public image that he was a brilliant but cold intellectual. He has yielded his position to Sarkozy with good grace, praising his "formidable dynamism" and "his will to unite".

Michele Alliot-Marie - interior

A lawyer by training and loyal follower of former president Jacques Chirac, the 60-year-old Alliot-Marie is known familiarly in France as "MAM". The first woman to chair Chirac's right-wing RPR party -- ancestor of the ruling UMP -- she was also the first woman to be named defence minister, a post she has held since 2002.

Long seen as a potential rival for the presidential nomination, Alliot-Marie swung in behind Sarkozy's campaign at the last moment after winning guarantees that he would open up his government to moderate right-wingers.

Rachida Dati - justice

Dati, 41, became a national figure as Sarkozy's official spokeswoman during the campaign. One of 12 children of north African immigrants, she qualified as a magistrate and worked as an accountant before becoming Sarkozy's advisor on delinquency in 2002.

Dati, who has strongly supported Sarkozy's ideas on affirmative action to help minorities, would be the first politician of North African origin to hold a senior French government post.

Christine Lagarde - agriculture

Listed as one of the world's most powerful women by Forbes magazine, the 51-year-old Lagarde is a high-flying corporate lawyer who was the first woman to head the executive committee of the US law firm Baker and McKenzie.

She joined the outgoing government in 2005, serving as international trade minister. An employment and antitrust specialist, Lagarde is also a former competition-level synchronized swimmer.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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