French Defense Minister Goulard Announces Resignation

French President Emmanuel Macron center French defense minister Sylvie Goulard and Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier right watch demonstration flights as part of the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget north of Paris Mon

Her resignation comes as Macron carries out a minor reshuffle of his government following parliamentary elections on Sunday which handed him and his allies MoDem a commanding majority.

That surprise resignation was in response to a French judicial inquiry that opened June 9 into the alleged payment of fictitious assistants in the European Parliament of the Modem party, of which Goulard is a member.

On Monday, the president asked close ally Richard Ferrand, who is embroiled in a conflict-of-interest scandal, to leave the cabinet and instead seek the leadership of REM's parliamentary group.

LREM's solid majority in parliament means Mr Macron will not depend on Modem's votes to get legislation through parliament, giving him more margin of manoeuvre on how to deal with them and whether to keep them in government.

French President Emmanuel Macron, center, French defense minister Sylvie Goulard and Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier, right, watch demonstration flights as part of the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Mon.

"That is why I have asked the president of the Republic, with the agreement with the prime minister, to step down from the government", Goulard said in a statement, daily Le Parisien reported.

The former MEP wanted to demonstrate her good will in the preliminary investigation into the use of assistants in the European Parliament.

The ministers' departure gives Macron a chance to reshape his government without including names who could prove awkward.

"This reform agenda must take precedence over any personal considerations".

Macron is expected to confirm Edouard Philippe as his prime minister.

Bayrou, whom Macron named justice minister as a reward for his support, last week dismissed the claims, saying there had "never been" fake jobs among his party's European Parliament staff.

On Tuesday, the MoDem leader told AFP he would not comment on Goulard's resignation except to say her decision was "personal".

Ms Macron appointed members of several parties among his ministers after he was elected president in May, including from Modem and the conservative The Republicans, seeking to further redraw a political landscape blown apart by his election on an independent centrist ticket.

The EU earlier this month unveiled an unprecedented plan for common defence spending to help Europe stand alone as a global military power, while urging the United States under Donald Trump to remain on the world stage.

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