October 28, 2016 / 7:31 PM / 3 years ago

France's Valls expresses "anger" over Hollande comments - Le Monde

French President Francois Hollande (R) speaks with Prime Minister Manuel Valls before a meeting with European social democratic leaders at the castle of La Celle Saint-Cloud, near Paris, France, August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - French Prime Minister Manuel Valls voiced anger over unguarded comments by Socialist President Francois Hollande published in a recent book, Le Monde reported on Friday, dealing a further blow to the embattled leader.

During a flight to Bordeaux on Thursday, Valls spoke of the “anger” and “shame” among Hollande’s supporters over his published indiscretions, the newspaper reported.

“It’s how I feel, and one should not keep silent but always call things by their name,” he was quoted as saying. “The book has caused shock and devastation among lawmakers.”

In their book, “A President Shouldn’t Say That”, Le Monde journalists Gerard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme quote Hollande’s disparaging comments about judges as well as remarks on immigration and Islam that are highly controversial among his left-wing majority.

It also quotes him confirming “at least four” targeted killings of Islamist militants he had approved since 2012 - before telling the authors a month later that he had never issued explicit orders to kill suspects.

Hollande, who even before the book’s publication was France’s most unpopular president in modern history, is now under pressure from some former supporters to rule out standing for another term in elections next April and May.

The comments by Valls, until now one of Hollande’s most steadfastly loyal backers, underline the uphill struggle he would face. The Spanish-born prime minister has signalled his own readiness to run for the presidency if Hollande steps aside.

“Because of the current political situation, I feel that I have a real responsibility to ensure we emerge as strongly as possible from this perilous period,” he also told Le Monde.

Reporting by Laurence Frost and Elizabeth Pineau; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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