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Macron Fires Ambassador Who Attacked His Pension Plan


PARIS — A former presidential candidate and longtime star of the French center left was fired as her country’s ambassador to the North and South Poles on Friday after mounting repeated attacks on one of President Emmanuel Macron’s flagship policies.

Ségolène Royal, who was the Socialist Party’s unsuccessful candidate in the 2007 French presidential election and later a senior official under the presidency of her former partner, François Hollande, was appointed to the diplomatic post by Mr. Macron in 2017.

In recent weeks, however, she has engaged in an increasingly messy public confrontation with Mr. Macron’s administration — including over the process of her own impending dismissal — and faced the news that public prosecutors were investigating whether she had used Foreign Ministry funds for unrelated work, an accusation she denies.

“The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs proposed that Ségolène Royal no longer hold the position of Poles ambassador,” Sibeth Ndiaye, the French government’s spokeswoman, said on Friday.

Ms. Royal’s response has been to announce a new centrist movement of her own, perhaps to challenge Mr. Macron in the 2022 elections.

The diplomatic post Ms. Royal held was an unconventional one, which made her responsible for France’s interests in two regions where it has little to no influence, even as superpowers are increasingly jockeying for Arctic energy resources.

France has no Arctic territory. Its closest point to the North Pole stands just a few kilometers from Dunkirk, in northern France. Within the Arctic Council, which comprises Arctic states such as the United States, Canada and Russia, France is limited to an observer status that leaves little room for maneuver.

To many, Ms. Royal’s appointment was a scanty consolation prize for a former environment minister who once took a leading role in United Nations climate negotiations.



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