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     French PM apologises for 'coward' remark  <<back  next>>

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin apologised yesterday for calling François Hollande, the leader of the Socialists, a coward in parliament on Tuesday.

The prime minister had faced calls for his resignation from most of the parties in parliament after his comments during a debate on his handling of industrial policy.

M. de Villepin, who was once seen as the centre-right frontrunner for the 2007 presidential elections, has suffered several crises in the last year, including nationwide rioting and a failed attempt to liberalise employment laws in a bid to reduce youth unemployment.

22 June 2006

 Last updated: 22/06/2006 10:16:00

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