French president names new ecology minister to replace scandal-tainted predecessor

PARIS, July 17 (Xinhua) -- French President Emmanuel Macron picked transport minister Elisabeth Borne as new ecology minister to replace Francois de Rugy, who was forced to step down after a spending scandal.


Elisabeth Borne (File photo: VCG)

In a statement released by his office late on Tuesday, Macron accepted de Rugy's resignation "following his request" and had appointed Elisabeth Borne to take in charge ecology and energy transition portfolio.

De Rugy announced on Tuesday his decision to step down because "the mobilization necessary to defend myself makes me unable to assume serenely and effectively the mission that the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister had entrusted to me," he wrote in a message posted on his Facebook account.

The 45-year-old former green lawmaker has been under fire over high spending on private lavish dinners and costly renovations of his ministerial residence.

On July 10, the investigative website Mediapart revealed that de Rugy and his wife had hosted a dozen luxury dinners, mostly for friends, at his official residence in central Paris.

It published further reports revealing that the minister and his wife had spent 63,000 euros (about 70,611 U.S. dollars) of taxpayer money on refurbishing his government-provided apartment.

Rejecting any wrongdoing, de Rugy said he had filed a complaint against Mediapart over its reports, which he said were based on "stolen photos, gossip, approximations."

De Rugy was parliament speaker from 2017 to 2018, and ecology minister from 2018.