PARIS Feb 22 French Environment Minister
Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said on Wednesday she was leaving the
cabinet to become a spokeswoman for President Nicolas Sarkozy in
a job switch designed to boost his flagging popularity before
Kosciusko-Morizet, 38, is often simply referred to by her
initials NKM and is seen as a foil to Sarkozy whose campaign for
a second term in the two-round election in April and May is
She is becoming Sarkozy's campaign spokeswoman at a time
when opinion polls show he would lose the presidential election
to Francois Hollande, his Socialist rival, and while he is
struggling to reconnect with voters anxious about issues such as
unemployment and immigration.
"This is my last cabinet meeting because I will present my
resignation tomorrow," Kosciusko-Morizet told reporters
following a weekly meeting between ministers and Sarkozy at the
Kosciusko-Morizet is a former MP, a supporter of green
issues, and was reported to be close to Jacques Chirac,
Sarkozy's predecessor as the head of the ruling centre-right UMP
party. She has been environment minister since November 2010.
One of her final acts as environment minister was to ask the
European Commission on Monday to suspend its decision to allow
Monsanto to plant its genetically modified MON810 corn.
She said she was resigning to avoid any appearance of
conflict of interest . Prime Minister Francois Fillon
will assume her ministerial duties for the rest of the
government's term, she said.
Although recent opinion polls suggest Sarkozy is staging a
fight back, he faces an uphill battle to win a second term. On
the left he is trailing Hollande, while on the far-right Marine
Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, is cashing in on
popular unease about immigration controls.
(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Writing By Alexandria Sage,
editing by Andrew Osborn)