This archived photo taken on Aug. 23, 2018 shows Interior Minister Gerard Collomb attending a media briefing after a knife attack in Trappes, France. French President Emmanuel Macron has accepted the resignation of the interior minister after initially refusing it, the Elysee Palace said Oct. 3, 2018, in a fresh blow to the president who was forced to replace two of his most popular ministers weeks ago. (Xinhua/Chen Yichen)
PARIS, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- French President Emmanuel Macron has accepted the resignation of the interior minister after initially refusing it, the Elysee Palace said Wednesday, in a fresh blow to the president who was forced to replace two of his most popular ministers weeks ago.
Macron "accepted the resignation of Gerard Collomb and asked the prime minister to act in his place until the announcement of a successor," the Elysee Palace said in a statement.
Collomb, the 71-year-old veteran socialist who joined the ruling camp in 2017, announced weeks ago that he would quit the government in mid 2019 to run for the Lyon municipal elections in 2020.
"It is always with great regret that we leave the interior ministry," Collomb said while he handed the interior portfolio to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.
"We are living in a difficult period ... It is up to all of us to be up to the task," Philippe said.
On Monday, Collomb, Macron's early ally, reaffirmed his will to quit the government in an unprecedented challenge to Macron's authority.
Local media citing a source close to the Elysee said Macron regretted that Collomb "put himself in a situation leading him to have to resign."
Collomb served as Lyon's mayor from 1001 to 2017. He joined Macron's government after emerging as a winner in the last presidential election.
His departure may further cloud the outlook of the 40-year-old head of state as his reforms were criticized by his opponents and cracks appeared in the unity of his cabinet.
The environment minister and sports minister, two of Macron's popular cabinet members, resigned several weeks ago.