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France Unveils New Cabinet; Half Are Women

  • VOA News

France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault takes part in the broadcast news of French TV channel France 2, May 16, 2012 in Paris.

New French President Francois Hollande is putting the pieces in place to forge ahead with "a new path" for the European economic power.

Aides announced Wednesday the formation of the new French Cabinet, one day after the Socialist politician was sworn in as president during a rain-soaked ceremony in Paris.

The new assignments include former Socialist prime minister Laurent Fabius as foreign minister and Pierre Moscovici as finance minister. Moscovici is a former minister for European affairs and had served as Hollande's campaign director.

Other key ministers include new Labor Minister Michael Sapin, new Interior Minister Manuel Valls and Defense Minister Jean-Yves Drian.

Hollande named Jean-Marc Ayrault on Tuesday to be his prime minister. The parliamentary leader of the Socialist party speaks German.

Hollande also appeared to make good on a campaign pledge to have women equally represented in the Cabinet. While most of the top posts went to men, 17 of the 34 positions have been filled by women.

One of the country's leading women politicians, however, is not part of the Cabinet. Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry - a rival of Hollande - said she agreed not to take
a consolation post as it made little sense.

After his inauguration Tuesday, Hollande flew to Berlin for key discussions with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two leaders pledged to work together on proposals to generate economic growth in Europe and avert a currency crisis.

During his election campaign, Hollande criticized the austerity deal forged by his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the German chancellor. The new French leader said he wants to spur growth and reduce debt without measures that hurt people. Merkel has said the recent eurozone treaty, which imposes budget austerity among its 17 member nations, is non-negotiable.

European leaders will meet informally next week and at a summit in June.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.