President Emmanuel Macron promises hope for a divided France

President Emmanuel Macron promises hope for a divided France

Date: 14 May 2017 10:31

Emmanuel Macron was inaugurated as France’s youngest ever president, saying the country had chosen hope and promising to relaunch the flagging European Union.

Macron, a 39-year-old centrist, took the reins of power from Francois Hollande a week after he won a resounding victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

After a warm welcome from Hollande at the Elysee Palace, the two held a closed-door meeting during which Macron was handed the codes to launch France’s nuclear arsenal.

ECONOMY MINISTER

In a moment heavy with symbolism, 62-year-old Hollande — who launched Macron’s political career by appointing him first as adviser and then economy minister — was then driven from the palace to applause from his staff and Macron.

The former investment banker who had never even contested an election was then proclaimed president by Laurent Fabius, president of the Constitutional Council.

“In order to be the man of one’s country, one must be the man of your time,” Fabius told him.

“You are now the man of your time...and by the sovereign choice of the people, you are now, above all...the man of our country.”

In his first speech, Macron said the French had chosen hope and shown a willingness to change in the election.

IMMINENT DEPARTURE

He promised that the EU, hit by the imminent departure of Britain, would be rejuvenated and relaunched during his time in office.

“The world and Europe need France now more than ever and they need a strong France with a sense of its own destiny,” he said.

To underline his European ambitions, Macron will visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday.

READ: Macron elected French president

The new president’s wife Brigitte, a 64-year-old who was his drama teacher, listened to the sombre 12-minute speech wearing a light blue Louis Vuitton outfit.

At the end of the formalities, a 21-gun salute rang out from the Invalides military Hospital on the River Seine.

DAUNTING CHALLENGES

Macron was later driven to the Arc de Triomphe to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier.

The new president faces a host of daunting challenges including tackling high unemployment, uniting a divided France and fighting terrorism.

Hollande’s five years in power were plagued by a sluggish economy and bloody terror attacks that killed more than 230 people and he leaves office after a single term.

Security was tight, with around 1,500 police officers deployed near the presidential palace and the nearby Champs Elysees Avenue and surrounding roads blocked off.

After a formal lunch, Macron visited Paris’s town hall, a traditional stop for any new president in his “host” city.


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