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French president splits with partner after affair

French President Francois Hollande on Saturday told AFP he has split with his long-standing partner Valerie Trierweiler after his affair with an actress nearly 20 years his junior.

PARIS: French President Francois Hollande on Saturday told AFP he has split with his long-standing partner Valerie Trierweiler after his affair with an actress nearly 20 years his junior.

The announcement came after a day of rumours in the French media that Hollande would formally announce the rupture on Saturday, on the eve of a visit by Trierweiler to India for charity work.

Saying he was speaking as a private individual, Hollande announced: "I wish to make it known that I have ended my partnership with Valerie Trierweiler."

Trierweiler, 48, remains holed up in a presidential residence in Versailles outside Paris after leaving hospital last Saturday, where she was treated for a bout of "tiredness" brought on by press revelations of Hollande's affair with 41-year-old actress Julie Gayet.

Trierweiler is due to fly to Mumbai on Sunday for a charity trip organised by French relief organisation Action Against Hunger (ACF), in her first public appearance since the scandal broke.

An ACF spokeswoman told AFP the trip "was confirmed this morning by Ms. Trierweiler's office."

Hollande, 59, announced his separation from Segolene Royal, a senior member of his Socialist party and a presidential candidate in 2007, just after she lost the election to Nicolas Sarkozy.

Trierweiler is not married to Hollande but assumed the role of First Lady at official functions after Hollande's election in 2012.

On Saturday, the popular Le Parisien daily carried a story on its website declaring "C'est Fini" (It's Over), adding that the Elysee Palace would release a statement shortly.

"Hollande, who took the initiative for the separation, wanted to make it official before Valerie Trierweiler's departure for India," said the Journal du Dimanche weekly on its website.

Hollande had promised at a mid-January news conference that he would publicly define what relationship, if any, he and Trierweiler had before a February 11 state visit to the United States.

Hollande's announcement comes after a spat between Trierweiler and her lawyer Frederique Giffard, who said Thursday that her client was aware that a "clarification" on her tangled situation was due.

Giffard remained evasive on the question of whether they would split, saying: "The president and my client are thinking. The decision is theirs alone. It is very difficult for Valerie Trierweiler to remain calm in the face of this media and political pressure. But she is aware that a clarification is necessary."

But Trierweiler reacted furiously to the lawyer's remarks and chastened Giffard for speaking without her permission.

Trierweiler is a glamorous, twice-divorced career journalist who has three children of her own and has been Hollande's partner for the best part of a decade.

She emerged into the spotlight before he was elected president, and warned that she would not be a wallflower, saying in April 2012: "I have character, they cannot muzzle me."

That was quickly proven when Trierweiler tweeted her support in legislative elections for an independent rival of Royal, someone with whom the first lady did not have warm relations.

The tweet went down badly in France, and Trierweiler's reputation suffered, with many deeming her somewhat arrogant.

But she has not commented on the latest scandal since French glossy Closer broke news of Hollande's affair with Gayet on January 10.

She only tweeted after being released from hospital on January 19 to thank her supporters.

After Hollande's election, Trierweiler cut down on her work at the French magazine Paris-Match and engaged in charitable activities.

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