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Sarkozy reappoints French prime minister amid cabinet reshuffle

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Sarkozy shuffles cabinet
  • NEW: French President Nicolas Sarkozy names his cabinet, replacing the defense and foreign minsters
  • NEW: Several other key ministers remain, including the finance and interior ministers
  • NEW: The head of the opposition dismisses the shakeup as cosmetic
  • Prime Minister Francois Fillon is reappointed one day after he resigned
  • France
  • Francois Fillon

Paris, France (CNN) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy reappointed Francois Fillon as prime minister on Sunday, but named new defense and foreign ministers in a cabinet reshuffle ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

Former Prime Minister Alain Juppe was named defense minister, while Michele Alliot-Marie will replace outgoing Foreign Minster Bernard Kouchner, according to Claude Gueant, Sarkozy's chief of staff.

He made the announcement one day after Fillon, and his Cabinet, stepped down. The prime minister's resignation is required before a new government can be named.

Other ministers managed to hold onto their posts.

Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux and Budget Minister Francois Baroin will remain, said Gueant.

The ministers are expected to be sworn in within the coming days and meet as a group for the first time on Wednesday.

Martine Aubry, head of the opposition Socialist Party, spoke soon after the announcement and dismissed the Cabinet shakeup as cosmetic.

The reshuffle came weeks after the French parliament passed controversial pension reform, sparking protests.

"The real change will come with the vote that takes place in 2012. This is the same prime minister pushing the same politics," said Aubry.

Sarkozy faces re-election in about 18 months and has many issues on his plate, including the economy and unemployment.

Fillon's reappointment was not a surprise, said Christian Mallard, a senior foreign policy analyst.

"The French like him," Mallard said of the moderate conservative.

"A lot of people think it would be a mistake for Sarkozy to fire him," he added.

CNN's Jim Bittermann contributed to this report.