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French president ditches partner after having affair with young actress

AFP-JIJI

French President Francois Hollande on Saturday said he has split with his long-standing partner, Valerie Trierweiler, after his affair with an actress nearly 20 years his junior.

The announcement came after a day of rumors in the French media that Hollande would formally announce the rupture 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 said 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 the 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.

“I extend all my gratitude to the fantastic Elysee staff. I will never forget their dedication nor the emotional farewell,” Trierweiler said Saturday on Twitter.

She was due to fly to Mumbai on Sunday for a charity trip organized by French relief group Action Against Hunger (ACF), in her first public appearance since the scandal broke two weeks ago.

“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.

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. Although she is not married to Hollande, she assumed the role of first lady at official functions after Hollande’s election in 2012.

After Hollande’s confirmation of the split, Le Parisien daily said on its website that Trierweiler had left the presidential retreat near the palace of Versailles on Saturday for their apartment in Paris’ middle-class 15th arrondissement. The Journal du Dimanche said the couple had worked out the terms of the split at a lunch Thursday.

Hollande had promised at a news conference earlier this month that he would publicly define what relationship, if any, he and Trierweiler had before a Feb. 11 state visit to the United States.

Hollande is the second French president to split from his partner while in office. In 2007, his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, divorced his wife, Cecilia, and married former supermodel and singer Carla Bruni the following year.