French President François Hollande has confirmed his separation from Valérie Trierweiler, his partner since 2006, in an exclusive interview with AFP.
The move follows media reports that Hollande was having an affair with French actress Julie Gayet.
"I wish to make it known that I have ended my partnership with Valérie Trierweiler," Hollande said, adding that he was speaking as a private individual and not as the president of the French Republic.
Several French media outlets reported Saturday morning that Hollande would announce that the couple were separating later in the day. But the BBC said the reports were denied by the president's Elysée Palace office, which referred to "false rumours" circulating in the French media.
Trierweiler, 48, will travel to India on Sunday for a charity trip.
The high-profile pair have been together since 2006. Two weeks ago, celebrity magazine Closer published a report that Hollande was having an affair with French actress Gayet. It ran pictures of a nocturnal visitor arriving via scooter at Gayet's apartment. It identified the nighttime caller, whose face was obscured by his motorcycle helmet, as the French president.
Trierweiler was hospitalised for "exhaustion" after the news broke. When she was discharged on January 18 she moved into La Lanterne, an official presidential residence next to the Versailles Palace.
Trierweiler tweets of 'departure'
The Journal de Dimanche reported that Hollande and Trierweiler had thrashed out the terms of their separation over lunch on Thursday. Trierweiler is reportedly moving back into her flat in the 15th arrondissement (district) of Paris.
In a tweet late on Saturday, Trierweiler appeared to confirm her departure from the palace.
"All my gratitude" goes out to the "extraordinary staff at the Élysée [Palace]", she wrote, adding: "I will never forget your dedication nor your emotion at the moment of my departure."
Hollande has four children from a previous relationship with Ségolène Royal, a senior member of his Socialist Party and a 2007 presidential candidate.
Trierweiler, an arts columnist for weekly magazine Paris Match, is not married to Hollande but assumed the role of first lady at official functions following his election in May 2012.
Hollande has known Gayet since at least 2012, when she featured in a campaign clip in which she described him as a "humble" and "fantastic" man.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-01-25