Mon, May 15, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Macron takes office as France’s new president

Reuters, PARIS

French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday waves he as stands in a military jeep being driven along the Champs-Elysees on his way to a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Photo: Reuters

Emmanuel Macron yesterday took power as president of France in a solemn ceremony heavy with tradition at the Elysee Palace and he pledged to work to heal divisions in society — a nod to the bitter campaign he fought to defeat a far-right leader.

His inauguration marked a first for the world’s fifth-largest economy and founding member of the EU, installing a 39-year-old centrist newcomer unknown to the wider public three years ago and who stands outside any traditional political grouping.

The former investment banker becomes the youngest post-war French leader and the first to be born after 1958 when then-president Charles de Gaulle put in place the country’s Fifth Republic.

In his first word in office, he addressed himself to the fraught and fiercely contested election campaign in which he overcame the National Front’s Marine Le Pen, but which was a disappointment for almost half of France’s 47 million voters.

Many people feel dispossessed by globalization as manufacturing jobs move abroad and as immigration and a fast-changing world blur their sense of a French identity.

“The division and fractures in our society must be overcome. I know that the French expect much from me. Nothing will make me stop defending the higher interests of France and for working to reconcile the French,” Macron said.

“The world and Europe need more than ever France, and a strong France, which speaks out loudly for freedom and solidarity,” he said.

Macron took power formally after an hour-long private meeting with former president Francois Hollande in which official access to France’s nuclear missile launch codes was handed over.

Macron then accompanied his political patron, for whom he once worked as economics minister, down the red carpet to a waiting car in which the Socialist leader departed to applause from guests and his former household staff.

In a ceremony conducted with all the pomp and glitter of high state occasions in France, Macron was presented with what is effectively his chain of office — a heavy golden necklace mounted on a red cushion that makes him Grand Master of the National Order of the Legion d’Honneur.

Departing from tradition, he chose to be driven by military jeep rather than limousine up to the Arc de Triomphe in the rain to light the flame in tribute to the war dead at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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