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  Villepin named new French PM
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Last EditedUser 215  May 31, 2005 06:55am
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MediaTV News - CNN
News DateTuesday, May 31, 2005 12:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionPARIS, France (CNN) -- French President Jacques Chirac has appointed Dominique de Villepin as prime minister to head a new government, responding to a humiliating referendum defeat.

Villepin, 51, moves from the interior ministry to replace Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who resigned after voters on Sunday roundly rejected Chirac's call for the ratification of a European Union constitution.

Villepin arrived at the presidential Elysee Palace just minutes after Chirac bid farewell to Raffarin with a handshake on the palace steps.

A former foreign minister, Villepin gained a worldwide reputation for his impassioned defense of the French stance against a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Villepin is a long-standing Chirac loyalist and was once his top adviser. However, analysts say he is an unpopular choice among lawmakers opposed to a prime minister who has never held elected office
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