French opposition asks for no-confidence vote on Macron’s government

French opposition asks for no-confidence vote on Macron’s government

The opposition accuses Macron, who came to power on pledges to restore transparency and integrity to the nation's highest office in order to ensure a "republic of responsibility", of covering up for Benalla.

"Macron defenceless", the Journal du Dimanche said in a front-page headline on Sunday over a picture of the president and Benalla.

Lawmakers plan to question Interior Minister Gerard Collomb this week as Macron's government faces mounting criticism over how it initially disciplined Benalla.

Another man who appears with Benalla was also placed under investigation along with three other police officers who are suspected of having passed on official video surveillance material to Benalla to help him prepare his defense.

Video footage from the May 1 protest showed Benalla lifting a protester off the ground by his neck and covering his mouth before striking him over the head with his fist.

Misconduct by President Macron's former security chief stemmed from "unhealthy cosiness" between police and Élysée Palace staff, the Paris law enforcement chief said yesterday.

French President Emmanuel Macron told lawmakers in his party Tuesday that he "in charge" in the scandal surrounding a top security aide, Alexandre Benalla, filmed manhandling May Day protesters and that he considered the acts "a betrayal".

Despite mounting pressure Macron has yet to speak publicly on "Benallagate", which is swiftly becoming the most damaging scandal since he won the presidency past year promising to restore integrity to government.

Opposition parties were united in expressing their outrage after the minister's appearance.

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Far-right leader Marine Le Pen told reporters Macron's office was covering something up.

French media reported that Benalla, 26, had been granted perks by the presidency such as an apartment in a high-class Paris area and a chauffeur-driven vehicle.

He is seen in numerous photos and TV footage alongside Macron during public and private events, from the 2017 presidential campaign to the celebration of France's World Cup victory in Paris.

An Elysee spokeswoman also denied reports he was going to benefit from a pricey renovation that would have provided him with a 200-sq-m apartment at the site.

The French leader, who fired Benalla on Friday, has not publicly commented on the case since it broke a week ago.

The head of state brushed away questions on the issue during a visit to the south-west of France last Thursday and isn't scheduled to appear in public until tomorrow, when he'll follow a stage of the Tour de France bike race.

Critics of Mr Macron have called the president's delayed response a characteristic sign that he is out of touch.

At a moment when Macron is struggling to push his European Union agenda to deepen the eurozone, the question for him and for his partners will be whether he still has the capacity to overcome opposition to his "transformation" of France and claim European Union leadership.

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