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Ayrault defends Hollande as disgraced budget minister bows out of politics

Reuters/Charles Platiau

France’s disgraced budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac is to give up his seat in parliament. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault insisted Wednesday that President François Hollande knew nothing of Cahuzac’s secret Swiss bank account, although the ex-minister was more ambiguous on the question.

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Cahuzac took some time to announce that he would renounce his seat and was earlier reported to be considering trying to hang on to his political career.

Dossier: The Cahuzac affair

But, speaking for the first time since he was charged with tax fraud and resigned as minister, he told BFMTV that he will not return to parliament and hinted that his political life is over.

His resignation will lead to a by-election in the south-western city of Villeneuve-sur-Lot.

Local Socialists on Wednesday said that they will not “keep their heads down” in fighting to keep the seat for the party, claiming that Cahuzac had a good record as a local representative.

Ayrault reacted to Cahuzac’s statement that he didn’t know how much Hollande knew about his shady dealings on Wednesday.

Describing the ex-minister’s TV performance as “a bit pathetic”, he declared that Hollande “obviously” wouldn’t have appointed Cahuzac minister if he had known about the secret account.

The Hollande government has tried to dissociate itself from Cahuzac and introduced a series of clean-government measures.

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