May 8, 2017 / 6:02 PM / 3 months ago

French conservative Estrosi says turns down Macron ministerial post

Christian Estrosi, President of the Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur region (PACA) and member of the Republicans political party, arrives to attend a political council at the party headquarters in Paris, France, April 24, 2017 2017 the day after the first round of 2017 French presidential election.Stephane Mahe

NICE, France (Reuters) - Senior French conservative Christian Estrosi, who was rumoured to possibly join president-elect Emmanuel Macron's movement, said on Monday he had turned down a cabinet post in the new government.

Estrosi, a close ally of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, told reporters, he had also decided to resign as president of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region, for which he has been in post since December 2015.

"I refused to exercise any government responsibilities," Estrosi told his supporters.

His entourage said that he had turned down a ministerial position in the Macron government to regain his post as mayor of Nice in time to commemorate the attacks last July 14 in the Mediterranean town that killed almost 90 people after an Islamist militant rammed a truck into a crowd.

"I will say things clearly: my only ambition is to serve my city and my region and not to enter the government," he later told reporters.

He said he had accomplished his regional mission of defeating the far-right National Front and wanted to focus in the future on his home city of Nice.

"I congratulated him (the new president) yesterday and wished him success because above all, I want the country to succeed."

Estrosi has been widely criticised among his conservative The Republicans party since meeting Macron in Marseille during the presidential election campaign.

Reporting by Matthias Galante; writing by John Irish; editing by Leigh Thomas

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