French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb resigned on Wednesday in a fresh blow to President Emmanuel Macron who was forced to replace two of his most popular ministers weeks ago.
Macron "accepted the resignation of Collomb and asked Prime Minister (Edouard Philippe) to act in his place till the announcement of a successor", the Elysee Palace said in a statement. The President had initially refused to accept Collomb`s resignation.
Collomb, the 71-year-old veteran socialist who joined the ruling camp in 2017, announced weeks ago that he would quit the government in mid 2019 to run for the Lyon municipal elections in 2020, Efe news reported.
"It is always with great regret that we leave the Interior Ministry," Collomb said while he handed the Interior Minister`s portfolio to the Prime Minister.
"We are living in a difficult period ... It is up to all of us to be up to the task," Philippe said.
On Monday, Collomb, Macron`s early ally, reaffirmed his will to quit the government in an unprecedented challenge to Macron`s authority.
Local media citing a source close to the Elysee said Macron regretted that Collomb "put himself in a situation leading him to have to resign".
Collomb served as Lyon`s Mayor from 2001 to 2017. He joined Macron`s government after emerging as a winner in the last presidential election.
His departure may further cloud the outlook of the 40-year-old head of state as his reforms were criticized by his opponents and cracks appeared in the unity of his Cabinet.
Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot and Sports Minister Laura Flessel, two of Macron`s popular Cabinet members, resigned several weeks ago.