French president separates from partner

Saturday 25 January 2014 23.31
French president separates from former first lady Valerie Trierweiler
French president separates from former first lady Valerie Trierweiler

French President Francois Hollande has said he has separated from his long standing partner Valerie Trierweiler after his affair with an actress nearly 20 years his junior.

The announcement came after a day of rumours in the French media that Mr Hollande would formally announce the rupture.

Saying he was speaking as a private individual, Mr Hollande announced: "I wish to make it known that I have ended my partnership with Valerie Trierweiler."

Ms Trierweiler, 48, remains holed up in a presidential residence in Versailles outside Paris after leaving hospital last Saturday.

She was treated for a bout of "tiredness" brought on by press revelations of President Hollande's affair with 41-year-old actress Julie Gayet.

Ms Trierweiler is due to fly to Mumbai tomorrow for a charity trip organised by French relief organisation Action Against Hunger.

An ACF spokeswoman said that the trip: "was confirmed this morning by Ms Trierweiler's office."

President Hollande, 59, announced his separation from Segolene Royal, a senior member of his Socialist party and a presidential candidate in 2007, just after she lost the election to Nicolas Sarkozy.

Ms Trierweiler is not married to Mr Hollande but assumed the role of First Lady at official functions after President Hollande's election in 2012.

The popular Le Parisien daily carried a story on its website declaring "C'est Fini" (It's Over), adding that the Elysee Palace would release a statement shortly.

"Hollande, who took the initiative for the separation, wanted to make it official before Valerie Trierweiler's departure for India," said the Journal du Dimanche weekly on its website.

Mr Hollande had promised at a mid-January news conference that he would publicly define what relationship, if any, he and Ms Trierweiler had before 11  February state visit to the United States.

Mr Hollande's announcement comes after a spat between Ms Trierweiler and her lawyer Frederique Giffard, who said that her client was aware that a "clarification" on her tangled situation was due.

Ms Giffard remained evasive on the question of whether they would split, saying: "The president and my client are thinking. The decision is theirs alone. It is very difficult for Valerie Trierweiler to remain calm in the face of this media and political pressure. But she is aware that a clarification is necessary."

But Ms Trierweiler reacted furiously to the lawyer's remarks and chastened Ms Giffard for speaking without her permission.

MsTrierweiler is a glamorous, twice-divorced career journalist who has three children of her own and has been Mr Hollande's partner for the best part of a decade.

She emerged into the spotlight before he was elected president, and warned that she would not be a wallflower, saying in April 2012: "I have character, they cannot muzzle me."

That was quickly proven when Ms Trierweiler tweeted her support in legislative elections for an independent rival of Ms Royal, someone with whom the first lady did not have warm relations.

The tweet went down badly in France, and Ms Trierweiler's reputation suffered, with many deeming her somewhat arrogant.

But she has not commented on the latest scandal since French glossy Closer broke news of Mr Hollande's affair with Ms Gayet on 10 January.

She only tweeted after being released from hospital on 19 January to thank her supporters.

After Mr Hollande's election, Ms Trierweiler cut down on her work at the French magazine Paris-Match and engaged in charitable activities.