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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
French PM pledges action
Jean-Pierre Raffarin (left) with Lionel Jospin
Raffarin accuses the socialist government of "inaction"
France's new government has a "mission to modernise", Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has pledged.

In his first television interview since being appointed, Mr Raffarin said the centre-right team would be a government of action, to replace the "inaction" of the past five years.

Cabinet ministers
Interior and domestic security - Nicolas Sarkozy
Foreign Affairs - Dominique de Villepin
Finance - Francis Mer
Defence - Michele Alliot-Marie
Justice - Dominique Perben
Environment - Roselyne Bachelot
Education and youth - Luc Ferry
Labour and social affairs - Francois Fillon
Transport - Gilles de Robien
His cabinet, which will lead the right's challenge in next month's parliamentary elections, includes a beefed up security ministry, France's first female defence minister, and a philosopher in charge of education.

Mr Raffarin said the government had heard the message delivered by the electorate in the presidential election, which Jacques Chirac won on Sunday after trouncing right-winger Jean-Marie Le Pen.

"There are very important matters to resolve and the dissatisfaction expressed by the French in these elections is very real," he said.

"The inaction of the past five years has been well and truly condemned by the electorate, so we must get to work in a great many areas swiftly and in depth.

"This is a government with a mission, and the mission is to modernise this country around a number of major objectives."

He said the authority of the republic, the revival of social dialogue and the role of the young all had to be addressed.

'Resolve and tenacity'

"Authority is to be found in action, in the working methods, in resolve and tenacity," he added.

"And I can tell you that as far as resolve and tenacity are concerned, I have plenty of both."

Nicholas Sarkozy
Nicholas Sarkozy: Powerful new security role
The new minister in charge of domestic security, Nicolas Sarkozy, 47, will have the task of tackling the law and order concerns which prompted many voters to back Mr Le Pen.

Mr Sarkozy, previously mayor of the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly, is seen as a hardline conservative.

A top business executive, 62-year-old Francis Mer, becomes finance minister. He is co-president of giant steel firm Arcelor.

And career diplomat Dominique de Villepin, 48, who is Mr Chirac's chief of staff and close confidant was given the foreign ministry.

Michele Alliot-Marie
Michele Alliot-Marie is France's first female defence minister
Six women were also appointed to the team of ministers. Michele Alliot-Marie, 55, was made defence minister - the first woman ever to hold the post. She is the president of Mr Chirac's RPR political party.

The others include Roselyne Bachelot (environment) and Euro-MP Tokia Saifi, 42, who is of Algerian origin ( sustainable development).

The Socialist Party said the new cabinet was a collection of Chirac cronies.


It's a provisional government and what's more it could be the shortest in the history of the Fifth Republic

Socialist leader Francois Hollande
"It's a government of those close to Jacques Chirac and especially to Alain Juppe," said former prime minister and Chirac's closest adviser, Socialist leader Francois Hollande.

"It's a provisional government and what's more it could be the shortest in the history of the Fifth Republic."

The new government will stay in power only until June unless it can deliver a right-wing majority in parliament.

The cabinet will meet for the first time on Friday, after a two-day national holiday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's James Coomarasamy
"The cabinet is basically a string of Chirac loyalists"

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06 May 02 | Europe
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