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Page last updated at 10:13 GMT, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 11:13 UK

Sarkozy makes Mitterrand minister

Frederic Mitterrand on scooter
Frederic Mitterrand arrived for his first day at work on a scooter

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has reshuffled his cabinet, appointing a nephew of former Socialist President Francois Mitterrand.

Frederic Mitterrand is the most high-profile new member of the cabinet, taking charge of the culture ministry.

The president appointed a new interior minister, Brice Hortefeux, but kept most key ministries unchanged.

Those departing include Rachida Dati, who made headlines for returning to work within days of giving birth.

The first Arab woman to fill a senior cabinet post, Ms Dati is thought to have lost favour with Mr Sarkozy and will be taking up a seat at the European Parliament.

Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier is also leaving the cabinet to become an MEP.

Election boost

The most notable new member of Mr Sarkozy's centre-right government is Frederic Mitterrand, 61, an openly gay television personality and writer.

The nephew of the late Socialist president has never been a leftist, and was a strong supporter of Mr Sarkozy's predecessor Jacques Chirac.

Brice Hortefeux
Brice Hortefeux becomes the new interior minister

He takes the place of Christine Albanel, whose flagship internet piracy law was thrown out by parliament in an embarrassment for the government.

Mr Hortefeux, a close ally of the president, is promoted to the interior ministry from labour and social affairs.

He replaces Michele Alliot-Marie, who takes over from Ms Dati at the justice ministry.

Francois Fillon remains prime minister, and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, and Defence Minister Herve Morin all keep their posts.

The reshuffle comes as Mr Sarkozy seeks to regain the initiative, two years into his term as president.

His popularity ratings fell sharply following his election in May 2007, but his party did well in the recent European elections and earlier this week he made an eye-catching address to parliament, becoming the first president to do so since the 19th Century.



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