France's Top General Resigns in Dispute Over Military Spending

Charmer

Macron had accepted his resignation, de Villiers added.

Macron has vowed to meet French NATO commitments to boost defense spending to 2 percent of GDP by 2025, but wanted to slash the military's budget this year by 850 million euros ($980 million).

The French military is not typically active in politics and occasionally referred to as "the great silent one".

The President also warned the chief in a media interview, saying, "If the [military] chief of staff has an issue with the President of the Republique, the chief of staff will be changed". When his first act was to cut €850m for many - not just in the armed forces - that felt like a betrayal.

Mr. Macron has also promised tax cuts for businesses and households to spur France's sluggish economic recovery.

De Villiers, whose brother Philippe heads an ultraconservative political group called Movement for France (MPF), became Fillon's military adviser in 2008 while the conservative politician was prime minister under president Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency, and became head of the army two years later.

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During the parade, Macron rode down the Champs-Elysees avenue in an open-topped military command vehicle standing side by side with a grim-faced De Villiers as Trump watched. Respondents with a poor opinion of Mr Macron cited arrogance, authoritarianism and excessive attention to communication.

The defense cuts are part of about a 4.5-billion-euro reduction in public spending Macron's centrist government aims to implement in order to reduce the budget deficit in line with European Union demands and kickstart the sluggish economy.

The president's room for manoeuvre has been restricted by a warning from the state auditor last month that there was a €9 billion hole in the country's finances. Earlier this week, leader of the Fifth Republic said that local authorities are expected to save 13 billion euros by 2022.

Economists point out that the budget for 2017 is largely complete already and that Mr Macron is set to face an even steeper challenge after the summer, when the much tougher budget decisions for 2018 need to be taken.

The clash on military spending comes as the French president attempts to reconcile competing election promises.

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