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France

Macron reorganises presidential staff after Benalla scandal

media French President Emmanuel Macron Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

French President Emmanuel Macron has created a post of general manager for the Elysée presidential palace and chosen a classmate from his days at the country's top administrative school for the post. The move comes after the scandal over one of Macron's security detail beating up a demonstrator but is part of a general overhaul that has been in the pipeline for several months.

Jérôme Rivoisy, who is currently deputy head of France's employment service, will move to the Elysée next week, the president's office confirmed late Monday.

Rivoisy was at the Ena administrative school at the same time as Macron, graduating in 2004, and has worked in the Paris administrative court and the state auditing body.

Benalla scandal

In July Macron recognised there were "malfunctions" at the palace after video emerged on social media of bodyguard Alexandre Benalla beating up young protestors while wearing a police crash helmet.

An inquiry into the scandal in the lower house of parliament has stalled because of a dispute between opposition and ruling party MPs over who should be questioned.

But another, in the Senate, is to continue, with Benalla himself scheduled to answer questions under oath on 19 September.

Benalla's lawyer, Laurent-Franck Liénard, on Tuesday said his client would not go to the Senate hearing until the legal inquiry into the events has finished.

Overhaul already planned

The reorganisation at the president's office was planned before the Benalla scandal erupted, however.

Consultants were called in six months ago, according to Le Monde newspaper, because the president had observed problems at the palace, which has a staff of 822, while a minister under his predecessor, François Hollande.

The overhaul, which will begin next week, will begin with communications, the paper reports.

With his image tarnished by the Benalla scandal, the resignation of two ministers, and a disappointing economic performance, Macron's popularity has slumped.

The latest opinion poll, published on Tuesday, shows 71 percent having a negative opinion of him, a fall of 12 points in his popularity ratings over the summer.

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