French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said he, alone, must take responsibility for the violent behaviour of a key security advisor who physically abused two demonstrators and masqueraded as a police officer during a demonstration last May, local media said.
The scandal broke last week when French media revealed videos of one of Macron’s close security aides, Alexandre Benalla, in which he is seen beating and dragging a male and a female demonstrator while wearing a police identification and carrying a police radio.
The French leader has been strongly criticised in the past five days because of the high position Benalla, 26, was allowed to attain in the Elysee Palace structure and the apparent widespread powers he assumed in the security apparatus, although not a policeman.
Macron has not spoken publicly about the accusations that there was favouritism and lack of control on Benalla, who had provided election campaign security for the French President.
But on Tuesday evening, Macron made unexpected statements to a meeting of his Republic Moving Forward (LREM) party, saying he assumed full responsibility for what Benalla did.
“I am the one answerable,” he told his followers, according to “France Info” radio.
“What happened on May 1 was a betrayal,” he added, in reference to the violent behaviour of his long-time security aide.
The President further noted there would be no scapegoats in the enquiries and investigations into the violent incidents and Benalla’s involvement.
The French parliament has opened a series of investigative hearings into the “Benalla Affair” and has summoned several senior officials, including Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, the Police Prefect and the Office Directors at the Elysee and the Interior Ministry, among others.
In addition to Benalla, another contract security worker has been charged with violence and impersonating a police officer, among other accusations, and three senior police officials have been suspended for colluding with Benalla.
“If they are looking for who is responsible, it is me and me alone,” Macron told his supporters, noting that he was the one that had trusted Benalla and had approved the very light sanction against him initially, the radio said.
Macron’s popularity has plummeted in the polls because of the Benalla scandal and he has less than 40 percent support among French people currently.
Source: Kuwait News Agency