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Emmanuel Macron promises to glue together divided France

France's new president Emmanuel Macron has pledged to fortify the European Union, redesign French politics and glue together his divided nation.

Mr Macron's presidency began with a visit to troops injured in overseas combat - a reminder of France's large global military presence and role in fighting extremists from Syria to Africa.

He's expected to name a prime minister imminently, and to show his commitment to reviving European unity. Mr Macron takes his first presidential trip on Monday to Berlin to meet Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In a lofty but lucid inaugural speech, Mr Macron vowed to lift France out of its sense of decline and lost purpose, and seize its place in the world.

"The time has come for France to rise up to the occasion. The division and fractures across our society must be overcome ... because the world expects us to be strong, solid, clairvoyant."

He promised to take France's responsibilities to tackle today's crises - "the migration crisis, the climate challenge, authoritarian abuse, the excesses of capitalism in the world and of course terrorism. Nothing now strikes one and spares the other. We are all interdependent. We are all neighbours."

The 39-year-old is the youngest president in the country's history and the eighth president of France's Fifth Republic, which was created in 1958. A former economy minister with pro-business, pro-European views, Mr Macron is the first French president who does not originate from the country's two mainstream parties.

After he was formally declared president at the Elysee Palace, 21 cannon shots were fired from across the Seine River at the Invalides monument, where Napoleon is entombed.

Mr Macron later paid tribute at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe, greeting veterans and military officers in formation beneath the imposing arch.

He takes charge of a nation that, when the UK leaves the European Union in 2019, will become the EU's only member with nuclear weapons and a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Reviving support for European unity will be among his top priorities. France is a founding member of the 28-nation EU and its third-largest economy after Germany and the UK.

"We will need a more efficient Europe, a more democratic Europe, a more political Europe because it's the instrument of our power and our sovereignty, I will work on that," he said.

Before the ceremony, he met for an hour with his predecessor, Francois Hollande, taking a last few minutes to discuss the most sensitive issues facing France, including the country's nuclear codes.

In a visibly moving moment for both, Macron accompanied Mr Hollande to his car, shaking hands and applauding him along with the employees of the French presidency who had gathered in the palace's courtyard.

The two men had known each other well. Mr Macron was Mr Hollande's former adviser, then his economy minister from 2014 to 2016, when Mr Macron quit the Socialist government to launch his own independent presidential bid.

About 300 guests, officials and family members gathered in the Elysee reception hall, including Mr Macron's wife, Brigitte, wearing a lavender blue dress by French designer Nicolas Ghesquiere for Louis Vuitton.

Mr Macron himself wore a dark suit from French brand Jonas and Cie, a tailor based in Paris.

The new president arrived on the Champs-Elysees Avenue under a heavy rain - recalling Mr Hollande's inauguration five years ago. But unlike his predecessor, Mr Macron managed to avoid getting wet. The bad weather often associated with the former Socialist president has become a joke for the French.

After his time at the tomb, Mr Macron went to shake hands with supporters along the Champs-Elysees, who were taking selfies and waving French tricolour flags, before coming back to the palace for a lunch with his family.

Earlier, he and France's new first lady briefly posed for photographers at the front porch of the palace after Mr Hollande left. The couple will now live at the Elysee Palace.

Mr Macron met with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo later on Sunday and visited the Percy military hospital in the Paris suburb of Clamart to meet with two soldiers injured during French operations in Mali last year and one wounded in Afghanistan in 2010.



From Belfast Telegraph