Minister rape allegations hinder Macron’s government relaunch


PARIS (Reuters) – Rape allegations towards a minister poached from the opposition conservative occasion overshadowed the primary assembly of French President Emmanuel Macron’s new cupboard on Monday, disrupting efforts to relaunch his presidency.

Damien Abad, France’s newly appointed minister for Solidarity and the Disabled, on Sunday denied he had raped two girls, following accusations printed by the Mediapart web site in an article primarily based on interviews with the ladies.

Macron’s new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, mentioned she was not conscious of the allegations when he joined the government, which Macron appointed on Friday after two weeks of efforts to strike a steadiness of gender, political persuasion and expertise.

Abad, who was beforehand the chief of the opposition conservative occasion within the decrease home, was Macron’s greatest catch in centre-right ranks, and an try and additional weaken the occasion of former presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy.

The girls quoted by the Mediapart story mentioned Abad had pressured them to have undesirable sexual relations with him. The actions occurred in late 2010 and early 2011, they mentioned.

One of the ladies filed a criticism to the police towards Abad in 2017 which was closed with out additional motion, Abad and Mediapart mentioned.

Abad denied any wrongdoing and mentioned his incapacity, a dysfunction referred to as arthrogryposis that impacts all 4 of his limbs, made it bodily unattainable for him to commit the acts he was accused of.

Opposition politicians from the left urged Macron to sack Abad.

“I feel it isn’t a query of whether or not he ought to resign, however whether or not he must be dismissed as a precaution,” Green politician Sandrine Rousseau mentioned on RTL radio. “We must ship a powerful sign to girls that their phrase counts.”

In televised feedback to his new ministers at first of the cupboard assembly, Macron mentioned the government’s mandate was to construct on his first 5 years in energy but in addition launch new initiatives to assist unite the French.

“This government’s mandate is to be on the service of our compatriots,” he mentioned, stressing that the cupboard was bringing collectively ministers of various background and political stripes. He didn’t point out the controversy round Abad.

After an election victory through which Macron solely obtained reluctant assist from some left-wing voters, his new government is making an attempt to indicate it’s taking issues about the price of residing and meals inflation significantly.

(Reporting by Michel Rose; Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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