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PARIS — It’s the sacking that has French diplomats and their overseas counterparts in Paris bewildered and buzzing.
The top of the French overseas ministry’s Center East and North Africa (MENA) part, Christophe Farnaud, was immediately changed on October 13, with none official clarification.
Particulars on what precisely occurred are scarce. However a number of French diplomatic officers, talking on situation of anonymity given the sensitivity of the problem, stated that the choice was made by President Emmanuel Macron and is seen as a strategy to put the diplomatic system on discover.
Macron has had a turbulent relationship with the overseas ministry. In a speech earlier than his corps of ambassadors in 2019, the president declared that France had a “deep state” and warned them to fall in line and implement his imaginative and prescient, particularly when it got here to warming relations with Russia.
Farnaud’s transient included international locations corresponding to Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya and Syria, the place Macron has tried high-profile — and high-risk — initiatives which have yielded blended outcomes at greatest.
A number of officers stated Farnaud was reluctant to implement Macron’s initiatives. Farnaud himself declined to remark, noting through e-mail that he was not allowed to speak to the press as a senior civil servant.
He referred questions — submitted by POLITICO by e-mail — to the overseas ministry’s press service, which provided no remark. The Elysée Palace declined to remark.
The dearth of readability over the sacking, coupled with its abruptness, was perceived by half a dozen diplomats who spoke on situation of anonymity as a intentionally brutal selection by Macron to say his authority over the system.
Diplomats stated the sacking could also be a preview of how Macron intends to workers the overseas ministry’s top-level jobs if he’s re-elected subsequent April, with extra political appointees who’re loyal to his imaginative and prescient. French diplomats are already involved by a deliberate overhaul of the civil service, which would come with ambassadorial positions.
Some officers have contemplated whether or not Farnaud’s administration fashion was a consider his elimination. Three French diplomatic officers stated a report was filed in latest weeks with greater than a dozen complaints about his habits. A number of diplomats who’ve labored with him over time corroborated reviews of a terse administration fashion.
However different diplomats dismissed this speculation. They famous Farnaud was appointed MENA director in 2019, underneath Macron’s presidency, regardless that he had confronted motion over related accusations in a earlier posting.
These diplomats additionally highlighted that Macron didn’t sack his diplomatic adviser or his deputy diplomatic adviser, who had been each accused of bullying and harassment and had been the topic of a evaluation by an exterior agency in 2020. Each denied the accusations.
Farnaud has been changed as MENA director by Anne Gueguen, an skilled, well-respected and high-ranking diplomat who served as No. 2 on the French everlasting illustration to the U.N. in New York and had been serving as deputy secretary-general of the ministry till her appointment.
She takes over a tough transient, weeks earlier than France will host a world summit on Libya on November 12, and within the midst of a extreme diplomatic disaster with Algeria.
French diplomats gathered final Friday night within the grand eating room on the overseas ministry to bid Farnaud farewell. The invitation despatched by the secretary-general of the overseas ministry, François Delattre, didn’t present any hints on what he’ll do subsequent.
Regardless of being dismissed from his earlier put up, Farnaud stays a senior civil servant.