French military chief resigns after row with Macron

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French President Emmanuel Macron, whose armed forces chief quit on Wednesday in a row over short-term spending cuts, confirmed after naming a replacement that he still meant to raise the defence budget over time, a government spokesman said.

The military chief clashed with Mr Macron last week after telling a parliamentary committee he would not allow the armed forces to be "screwed" by €850m (£752m) worth of planned cuts.

Gen de Villiers was said to have told a parliamentary committee he would not let the government "f*** with" him on spending cuts.

"If something puts the chief of the armed forces at odds with the president of the republic, the chief of the armed forces changes", Mr. Macron said in the interview.

General Pierre de Villiers, 61, wrote: "In the current circumstances I see myself as no longer able to guarantee the robust defence force that I believe is necessary to guarantee the protection of France and the French people. and to sustain the aims of our country".

French government spokesman Christophe Castaner told reporters that Macron has nominated Gen. Francois Lecointre, a career military officer, as the new chief of staff.

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De Villiers, who has been in the position since 2014, added that he could no longer perform the functions of the job.

Damien Abad, a lawmaker from the conservatives Republicans, also took issue with what he termed Macron's "excessive authoritarianism".

The leader of the hard-left France Unbowed, Jean-Luc Melenchon, called it an "enormous mistake" on Macron's part.

De Villiers had repeatedly complained that the military was overstretched and said he saw it as his duty to inform politicians.

In his first foreign visit after taking office, he visited French troops engaged in counter-terrorism operations in the West African country of Mali. His dissatisfaction came as France prepared to host U.S. President Donald Trump and display its military might on the national holiday of Bastille Day.

It also appeared at odds with Mr. Macron's commitment to increase military spending to 2 percent of G.D.P. - the amount that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries are required to spend on defense - by 2025.

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