France: Justice minister forced to quit government

France: Justice minister forced to quit government

French justice minister Rachida Dati, a single mother and the first senior senior cabinet member of North African origin, is to quit President Nicolas Sarkozy's government, her party confirmed Friday.

Dati will stand in June's European parliamentary election and will step down if successful, officials in Sarkozy's office told AFP, just three weeks after the president's glamorous protegee gave birth to a daughter.

Since she will be the second candidate on the right-wing ruling UMP's list for the Paris region, there is no doubt she will win a seat, and Sarkozy has made it clear cabinet members have no time to also serve as Euro MPs.

The minister herself remained tight-lipped about her future, but the daily Le Figaro reported that the 43-year-old was "resigned" to leaving in exchange for Sarkozy's support in building a career in electoral politics.

Long a Sarkozy ally, Dati shot to prominence in 2007, as one of three politicians of North African descent named to the president's right-wing government and the first to hold a senior cabinet post.

But since then she has run into a string of setbacks, as aides resigned over her management style and critics accused her of bludgeoning through unpopular reforms without allowing proper debate.

She had reportedly fallen out of favour with her political mentor Sarkozy over her failure to win the support of the legal establishment for measures to streamline the judicial system.

Dati's high-profile lifestyle -- she often appears in the lifestyle press sporting expensive designer gowns and socialising with celebrities -- was also seen as out of tune with a France in economic crisis.

Amid this political storm, her refusal to name the father of three-week-old Zohra on the grounds that she has "a complicated private life" thrust her into the media spotlight and sparked an intense media guessing game.


Source: France24 (English)

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