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article imageLeading faces in France's new government

By Clare BYRNE (AFP)     May 17, 2017 in World

Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron named his cabinet on Wednesday, appointing veteran Socialist Jean-Yves Le Drian to foreign affairs and a rightwinger as economy minister in a team that cuts across traditional party lines.

Here are the top appointments:

- Foreign affairs: Jean-Yves Le Drian -

Jean-Yves Le Drian threw his weight behind Macron at a key point in the campaign
Jean-Yves Le Drian threw his weight behind Macron at a key point in the campaign
Joël SAGET, AFP/File

France's new Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was a respected defence minister in the outgoing Socialist government, praised for his pragmatism and the flurry of orders he chalked up for the arms industry.

The 69-year-old from northwest Brittany, who backed former cabinet colleague Macron for president, is one of only two ministers to be kept on -- a reward for his support which helped paper over Macron's lack of international experience.

In Le Drian's five years in defence, French troops intervened against jihadists in west Africa and in the war-torn Central African Republic, French jets joined in air strikes against the Islamic State group and troops began patrolling France's streets to try to ard off jihadist attacks.

- Defence: Sylvie Goulard -

Sylvie Goulard is little known to the French public  having spent most of her career in Brussels
Sylvie Goulard is little known to the French public, having spent most of her career in Brussels
CHARLY TRIBALLEAU, AFP/File

Sylvie Goulard, a 52-year-old centrist MEP from the southern city of Marseille, is little known to the French public, having spent much of her career in Brussels.

She was a surprise choice for the renamed position of "armies minister" and is known as more of a specialist on the European Union and the economy than on defence matters.

Goulard speaks fluent German, English and Italian and has written several books on the EU.

From 2001 to 2004 she was an advisor to then European Commission president Romano Prodi.

Well-respected in Berlin, the trained lawyer helped arrange Macron's first meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel in March, when he was still a candidate for president.

- Economy: Bruno Le Maire -

Bruno Le Maire is the new pilot of the French economy
Bruno Le Maire is the new pilot of the French economy
JOEL SAGET, AFP/File

Bruno Le Maire, 48, is the second-biggest figure from the right-wing Republicans that Macron has won over, after Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

A minister for agriculture under ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, Le Maire made a failed bid for the Republicans presidential nomination last year when he finished a disappointing fifth.

He dutifully threw his support behind the winner Francois Fillon until the latter became embroiled in a damaging expenses scandal.

No sooner was Macron elected on May 7 than Le Maire was offering his services. He faces a daunting task to revive France's struggling economy.

- Interior: Gerard Collomb -

Gerard Collomb was moved to tears during Macron's election win
Gerard Collomb was moved to tears during Macron's election win
FRANCOIS GUILLOT, AFP

Gerard Collomb, the Socialist mayor of Lyon, France's third-biggest city, makes his debut in national government at the age of 69.

The reform-minded politician and senator, who was one of Macron's first big-name backers, was moved to tears at seeing the 39-year-old take office at the Elysee Palace last Sunday.

Collomb has spearheaded several major projects to revitalise Lyon since becoming mayor in 2001.

His main task as minister in charge of the police will be to try thwart jihadists plotting attacks on French soil but he will also spearhead efforts to introduce new instant penalties for anti-social behaviour or vandalism.

- Justice: Francois Bayrou -

Francois Bayrou has run for president three times
Francois Bayrou has run for president three times
JOEL SAGET, AFP/File

The veteran centrist ran for president three times between 2002 and 2012 but never made it past the first round.

In February, he threw his weight behind Macron, in return for a promise to introduce legislation to boost ethics in public office.

At a meeting recorded in a fly-on-the-wall TV documentary about Macron's campaign, 65-year-old Bayrou struck a paternal tone with the 39-year-old, saying: "It's a strange thing, the presidency. You're not old enough but it doesn't matter."

A farmer's son from the southwestern Pyrenees mountains, Bayrou was education minister from 1993 to 1997.

- Sport: Laura Flessel -

Laura Flessel is one of the country's most decorated sportswomen
Laura Flessel is one of the country's most decorated sportswomen
FRANCK FIFE, AFP

Laura Flessel, 45, is a black fencing champion from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.

France's new sports minister is one of the country's most decorated sportswomen, with five Olympic medals and six world championships under her belt.

A campaigner against gender violence, she retired from fencing in 2012.

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