PARIS – French President Nicolas Sarkozy has reshuffled the Cabinet, putting old faces in top posts and notably bringing in former Prime Minister Alain Juppe as defense minister and making that job the No. 2 post.
Prime Minister Francois Fillon was renamed to his position Sunday morning after offering his resignation Saturday night — a move required to set the reshuffling process into motion.
The marathon weekend changes took a total of 24 hours. Faithful members of Sarkozy's conservative UMP party hold prime spots in the government.
Michele Alliot-Marie, previously justice minister, was named foreign minister in the new government, replacing Bernard Kouchner, the leftist former humanitarian worker who indicated himself recently that his days were numbered.
Christine Lagarde remained as economy minister, and Brice Hortefeux retained his post as interior minister — but took on the additional job of immigration minister.
Juppe was in the original government named after Sarkozy's 2007 election, but was forced to resign a month later after failing in his bid for a parliamentary seat in legislative voting. The Bordeaux mayor was convicted of party financing irregularities in 2004 and forced into the political desert for three years.
The man who served as defense minister in the previous government, Herve Morin, said minutes before the new Cabinet was announced that he saw a "campaign team" being tailored for the 2012 presidential elections.
Hortefeux held the emblematic post of immigration minister, created when Sarkozy took office in May 2007 before moving to the interior ministry in an earlier reshuffle.
Eric Besson, a turncoat Socialist who served most recently as immigration minister, was given a junior minister's post in charge of industry and energy, apparently fulfilling his wishes to return to the field of economy.
There was a total of 30 members in the new government, trimmed from 37.