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French PM defends promotion of minister accused of rape after feminist backlash

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France's new prime minister firmly defended on Wednesday the contested promotion of a colleague accused of rape as his interior minister, in charge of enforcing French laws, following a backlash from feminist groups.

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Prime Minister Jean Castex's vigorous expression of support for the minister, Gérald Darmanin, comes amid questions about whether President Emmanuel Macron is failing in his promises to make a priority of equality between men and women.

Castex told broadcaster BFM-TV that he took total responsibility for Darmanin's appointment at the interior ministry. He was promoted from his previous job as budget minister.

“He, like everyone else, has the right to the presumption of innocence,” Castex said.

Darmanin is under preliminary investigation over a rape accusation that he firmly denies. Macrons office has said the probe was “not an obstacle” to Darmanins appointment to his new job in charge of police and other law enforcement bodies.

The recently reopened investigation is based on a 2017 legal complaint by a woman who alleged that Darmanin raped her when she sought legal help from him in 2009.

Darmanin, the highest-ranking French official accused of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era, says the encounter was consensual. He has sued the woman for slander.

>> French feminists criticise choice of justice, interior ministers over sexism and rape claims

In another controversial appointment, Macron handed the justice ministry to provocative lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti, who previously ridiculed the #MeToo movement and defended a top official accused of rape.

On Tuesday, feminist groups staged two protests in Paris over the appointments they see as burying Macrons promises to make equality between womRead More – Source

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