French president splits with partner
French President Francois Hollande says he has split with longstanding partner Valerie Trierweiler following his affair with an actress nearly 20 years his junior.
Saturday’s announcement came after a day of rumours in the French media that Hollande would formally announce the rupture on Saturday, on the eve of a visit by Trierweiler to India for charity work.
Saying he was speaking as a private individual and not as head of state as the matter concerned his private life, Hollande told the AFP news agency over the phone: “I wish to make it known that I have ended my partnership with Valerie Trierweiler.”
Trierweiler, 48, had been convalescing at a presidential residence in Versailles outside Paris after leaving hospital last Saturday, where she was treated for what was described as fatigue brought on by press revelations of Hollande’s affair with 41-year-old actress Julie Gayet.
Trierweiler is due to fly to Mumbai on Sunday for a charity trip organised by French relief organisation Action Against Hunger (ACF), in her first public appearance since the scandal broke two weeks ago.
An ACF spokeswoman told AFP the trip “was confirmed this morning by Ms Trierweiler’s office.”
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.
He then started living openly with Trierweiler. Though she is not married to Hollande, she assumed the role of First Lady at official functions after Hollande’s election in 2012.
There was no immediate comment from Trierweiler after the announcement of the split.
On Saturday, 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,” the Journal du Dimanche weekly said on its website.
After Hollande’s confirmation of the split, Le Parisien said on its website that Trierweiler had left the presidential retreat near the chateau of Versailles on Saturday for their apartment in Paris’s middle-class 15th arrondissement.
The Journal du Dimanche said the couple had worked out the modalities of the split at a lunch on Thursday.
Hollande had promised at a mid-January news conference that he would publicly define what relationship, if any, he and Trierweiler had before a February 11 state visit to the United States.
US President Barack Obama “looks forward to seeing President Hollande as planned,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told AFP on Saturday, without further comment.
Hollande’s announcement comes after a spat between Trierweiler and her lawyer Frederique Giffard, who said Thursday that her client was aware that a “clarification” on her tangled situation was due.
But Trierweiler reacted furiously to the lawyer’s remarks and chastened Giffard for speaking without her permission.