His resignation is the latest in a string of high-profile departures from the Elysée Palace. The resignation of one of Mr Macron’s most loyal aides comes as the 41-year-old leader struggles to regain the public’s trust, badly eroded by months of anti-government yellow vest protests and an embarrassing scandal surrounding his former security chief, Alexandre Benalla. Mr Emelien told the French weekly Le Point he would leave in late March or early April, while insisting that his departure has nothing to do with his alleged involvement in the so-called Benalla affair, saying instead that he was leaving in order to publish a book on “progressive” politics.

The Macron ally said the young centrist had “prohibited his advisors from publishing while working for him at the Elysée”.

He told Le Point: “For reasons of personal ethics and in light of my role as special advisor, I have maintained a profound silence which is not compatible with the publication of my book.”

His exit follows the resignations of Mr Macron’s communications advisors Sylvain Fort and Barbara Frugier, and political strategist Stephane Sejourne.

But despite his efforts to downplay his role in the Benalla case, the 31-year-old strategist’s name has been repeatedly linked to the messy investigation involving the disgraced former bodyguard, who faces a raft of charges after he was filmed beating up two protesters at a May Day rally in Paris last year.

Mr Benalla was sacked after footage of him roughing up the demonstrators while dressed up as a police officer was published by the French left-leaning daily Le Monde in July.

In addition, revelations over the summer that Mr Macron’s office knew about the incident from the very beginning but kept the bodyguard in his job left lingering suspicions of a presidential cover-up.

Mr Emelien admitted to police he had handed Mr Benalla CCTV footage of the May assault, which had been illegally obtained.

The scandal deepened further after it emerged that Mr Benalla had continued to travel on his diplomatic passports after he was fired, using them to carry out consultancy work across Africa.

He says he handed the passports over when he was fired, but got them back through the president’s staff in October. The Elysée has denied this.

In a recording tape published last month by the French investigative website Médiapart, Mr Benalla also bragged he had the unwavering support of key administration figures, including “the boss” Mr Macron and Mr Emelien.

The Macron government stressed on Tuesday that Mr Emelien’s decision was “very personal” and unrelated to the Benalla affair.

“He’s made his choice, and it’s a very personal one,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told France 2 television.

“Ismaël Emelien’s departure is linked to the book he is co-writing with David Amiel about progressivism.”

But the conservative opposition Les Républicains party accused the government of lying about the reasons behind Mr Emelien’s resignation.

“The government’s ability to take the French for idiots is outrageous,” Les Républicains spokesman Gilles Platret said on Twitter.

Mr Benalla came under fresh scrutiny on Monday after Médiapart reported that he had brokered security contracts worth 2.2 million euros (£1.9million) with two Russian oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin before and after he was fired, and may have misled a Senate committee about his role as middleman.

French prosecutors said on Friday they had opened a corruption probe into one of the contracts, concluded with Russian tycoon Iskander Makhmudov.

Both Mr Benalla and Elysée officials declined to comment when contacted by Reuters, citing the ongoing criminal investigation.

source: express.co.uk


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