France to Impose Sanctions on Soldiers Supporting Far-Right Letter

An open letter against France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, which has the support of some retired generals in France, is still on the country’s agenda.

On the 21 April, far-right magazine Valeurs Actuelles published an open letter directed at President Macron, the Prime Minister and members of parliament, calling the government to defend patriotism saying: “The hour is critical, and France is in danger.”

Prime Minister Jean Castex (French Government)

Prime Minister Jean Castex condemned the open letter by calling the unusual military interference in politics an “initiative against all of our republican principles, of honour and the duty of the army.”

The open letter was also published on the anniversary of a failed coup attempt by retired generals against then president, Charles de Gaulle, on 21 April, 1961.

The open letter was signed by 20 retired generals and 100 retired and active duty officers. When the open letter was first published it was signed by over a 1,000 soldiers. Now, the number of soldiers who signed the open letter are over 8,000.

Among those who expressed their support are 24 generals who, while close to retirement, can still be called to active duty.

Visit of Army General François Lecointre, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces (CEMA) to the Ecole Polytechnique on the occasion of the 2017 DGA Forum ( Jérémy Barande)

In an interview given to Le Parisien, The Chief of the Defence Staff General François Lecointre said that among thousands of soldiers they have identified 4 officers and 18 active duty soldiers.

“Each one will go before a senior military council,” General Francois Lecointre told Le Parisian, each one faces being “delisted” and thus “put into immediate retirement”, Lecointre said, adding it would be President Emmanuel Macron who would take the decision and sign a decree on their dismissal.

“I believe that the higher the responsibilities, the stronger the obligation of neutrality and exemplarity,” said Lecointre.

Lecointre says that those on active duty will receive military disciplinary action and expressed that he wants retired generals, who supported the open letter, with the 2S status, to lose said status and become fully retired.

In the French army, soldiers who have achieved the rank of general are split into two categories, which are 1S and 2S. Generals on active duty and on temporary duty are included in 1S. While generals who have left active duty fall under the category of 2S. Retired generals with 2S status are prohibited from expressing their political opinions.

The Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, spoke to France Info radio last Sunday and said that the actions of these soldiers were “irresponsible” and “unacceptable”. Minister Parly also said in the statement she made on Sunday that, the duty of soldiers is not to interfere in politics but to protect France and the French people.