French military chief quits after rebuke by Macron
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French military chief quits after rebuke by Macron

In light of proposed defense cuts, Pierre de Villiers says he can no longer properly carry out role

This file photo taken on July 14, 2017, shows French Chief of  Staff General Pierre de Villiers during the annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. (AFP Photo/Pool/Etienne Laurent)
This file photo taken on July 14, 2017, shows French Chief of Staff General Pierre de Villiers during the annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. (AFP Photo/Pool/Etienne Laurent)

PARIS — France’s military chief resigned on Wednesday after he was rebuked by French President Emmanuel Macron for protesting defense spending cuts.

General Pierre de Villiers said in a statement he no longer felt able to command the sort of armed forces “that I think is necessary to guarantee the protection of France and the French people.”

The row between the president and De Villiers, 60, blew up last week when the chief of the defense staff told a parliamentary committee he would not allow the armed forces to be “screwed” by plans to cut 850 million euros ($980 million) from the budget.

Macron replied later that “I am the boss,” adding in a newspaper interview at the weekend that if there was a difference of opinion, “it is the chief of the defense staff who will change his position.”

This file photo taken on July 14, 2017, shows French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Chief of Staff General Pierre de Villiers during the annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. (AFP Photo/Pool/Etienne Laurent)
This file photo taken on July 14, 2017, shows French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Chief of Staff General Pierre de Villiers during the annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. (AFP Photo/Pool/Etienne Laurent)

De Villiers said Wednesday that throughout his career, he had believed it was his duty to tell politicians “of my reservations.”

The row has provoked a debate about whether 39-year-old Macron had humiliated his military chief or whether he had no choice but to exert his authority just two months into his presidency.

Macron, a centrist, won the presidency in May by defeating far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

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