Hollande Hands Over To Macron As France’s Youngest Ever President

In a solemn ceremony today at Elysee Palace in Paris, socialist Francois Hollande handed over power to Emmanuel Macron, who becomes France’s youngest ever president.

Macron, a 39-year-old centrist, arrived at the Elysee Palace in central Paris in a motorcade and walked down the red carpet under light rain to be greeted by Hollande for his inauguration.

The new president’s wife Brigitte, a 64-year-old who was his high school drama teacher, arrived separately for the ceremony wearing a light blue Louis Vuitton outfit.

A week after his victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen in a tumultuous election, Macron will have a private meeting with Hollande at which he will be given the codes to launch France’s nuclear weapons.

Hollande welcomes Macron to Elysee Palace

He will then attend a ceremony in front of hundreds of politicians and invited guests at which the official election results will be read out.

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At the end of the formalities, a 21-gun salute is to ring out from the Invalides military hospital on the other side of the River Seine.

Macron will then be driven to the Arc de Triomphe to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Security was tight with around 1,500 police officers deployed near the presidential palace and the nearby Champs Elysees avenue and surrounding roads were blocked off.

After a formal lunch, Macron will visit Paris’s town hall, a traditional stop for any new French president in his “host” city.

Macron’s first week will be busy. On Monday, he is expected to reveal the closely-guarded name of his prime minister, before flying to Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

It is virtually a rite of passage for French leaders to make their first European trip to meet the leader of the other half of the so-called “motor” of the EU.

In his inaugural address, Macron pledged to work to overcome divisions in society which had been shown by the presidential election campaign and seek to build a strong France that was sure of itself in the world.

“The division and fractures in our society must be overcome,” said the 39-year-old centrist who was elected on May 7 after beating the far right leader Marine Le Pen following a bitter campaign that was dominated by France’s role in Europe and which blew apart the traditional party structure in France.

“The world and Europe need more than ever France, and a strong France, which speaks out loudly for freedom and solidarity,” Macron declared.

He said under his administration the labor market would be made more flexible, business-friendly conditions would be created to help companies function and “innovation” would be at the heart of his action as president.

*AFP/Reuters

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