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French Prime Minister defends appointment of Interior Minister facing rape charge

FRANCE’S new Prime Minister, Jean Castex, today defended his appointment of Gerald Darmanin as Interior Minister despite the latter facing a rape charge.

Mr Castex said the charges against Mr Darmanin weren’t relevant as everybody is innocent until proven guilty.

Feminist organisations led protests in Paris on Tuesday over his appointment and that of new Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti, who attacked the #MeToo movement against rape and sexual harassment, complaining that “crazy” women were “crucifying” men on social media, and condemned France’s 2018 ban on street harassment of women as a “joke.”

Mr Darmanin is accused of raping a woman who sought legal help from him in 2009. He says they had consensual sex. 

He replaces Christophe Castaner, who briefly banned police chokeholds during arrests following Black Lives Matter protests that highlighted the method’s role in the police killing of Adama Traore in 2016.

Mr Castaner later backtracked after protests from police federations, and it is unclear if he is being punished for proposing the reform or dropping it.

The new ministers are the result of a reshuffle following the resignation of former prime minister Edouard Philippe after dismal local election results for President Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche party.

The president said the reshuffle indicated a “new path” for France after two years in which the country has been rocked by the Yellow Vests protest movement and massive strikes against attacks on pensions.

However, the French Communist Party said that Mr Macron had increased the representation of former members of the right-wing Republican party and pursued “a policy in the exclusive service of large companies and their shareholders eager for dividends, which are constantly increasing.”

It warned that the French “do not want unconditional aid to big corporations, which translates into countless relocations, site closures and massive layoffs.

“They expect a stimulus policy that meets their demands for justice, not a greenwashing of choices that widen inequality and destroy the environment.”

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