France's Manuel Valls starts work as prime minister


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France's outgoing Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (L) shakes hands with newly-named Prime Minister Manuel Valls during the official handover ceremony at Hotel Matignon, the French prime minister's official residence, in Paris April 1, 2014.

Manuel Valls took up the post of President Francois Hollande's prime minister on Tuesday, replacing Jean-Marc Ayrault who resigned in the wake of the ruling Socialists' rout in local elections at the weekend.
The 51-year-old centrist Valls, who has been interior minister since 2012, took up his post in the 18th century Matignon mansion in central Paris which serves as the prime minister's office after a brief handover ceremony with the departing Ayrault.
Polls have regularly shown Valls, who has talked tough on law and order, to be France's most popular minister. His centrist views make him more controversial with the left-wing of the Socialist Party, however.
Among his first duties will be to propose a new government as early as Wednesday.

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