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French President Sarkozy Names 'Government For All People'

  • Anita Elash

Newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy has named his new government. It's a much smaller cabinet than before, and half the jobs went to women. Anita Elash reports for VOA from Paris.

Ever since his election as president nearly two weeks ago, Nicolas Sarkozy, a conservative, has promised to set up a government for all of France.

Friday, he and his new Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, announced a cabinet that seems to fulfill that promise. There are only 15 ministers - half the number in the previous government, and half those jobs went to women.

One of the most prominent roles went to a member of the Socialist Party. Bernard Kouchner, who is best-known for starting the humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders, or Medecins Sans Frontieres, is the new minister of foreign affairs. Like Mr. Sarkozy, he has taken a pro-American stance and was one of the few French politicians who did not oppose the war in Iraq.

The cabinet also includes the first ethnic minority figure in a senior government post, with Rachida Dati, a lawyer of North African origin, named as justice minister. Mr. Sarkozy is often seen as anti-immigrant. Political journalist Claude Askolovitch said on French public television that the appointment was an important symbol.

"This is something no other government would do, but Mr. Sarkozy has done it," he said. "It's a very important job, and it sends a strong signal."

The government was to get right down to work. Its first meeting was scheduled for Friday afternoon.