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French armed forces chief resigns

The head of the French armed forces has resigned amid a bitter public row with the president, Emmanuel Macron – an unprecedented dispute that has highlighted the strain on the French military, deployed in numerous operations abroad and at home.

Gen Pierre de Villiers said in a statement he could no longer “guarantee the durability of the army model” that he considered necessary to ensure France’s protection.

France’s government last week revealed major cuts to bring its budget deficit below the level of an EU cap.

Mr Macron had said he would not tolerate dissent from the military.

The row began last week when a government minister revealed in a newspaper interview that – despite assurances that the French military budget would rise – there would be a surprise €850m cut to military finances as Macron seeks to slash public spending.

In a speech at the defence ministry last week, he said: “It is not dignified to hold certain debates in the public arena.”

Then in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche, he said: “If the military chief of staff and the president are opposed on something, the military chief of staff goes.”

But he had also said the general had his “full trust” as long as he “knows the chain of command and how it works”.

As per the reports, Gen de Villiers’ replacement will be named on Wednesday.

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