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French President Hollande's top aide resigns

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PARIS (AP) — The French president's top adviser resigned Friday following allegations of a past conflict of interest, striking a new blow to the already unpopular Francois Hollande.

Aquilino Morelle —Hollande's political adviser and head of his communication staff — had denied allegations by the news website Mediapart that his work for the government pharmaceutical regulator in 2007 while also lobbying for the drug industry was a conflict of interest.

The report also criticized Morelle's supposed lavish lifestyle at a time when the government is making cuts in public spending.

Hollande sought to distance himself from the new scandal, telling reporters while on a visit to Clermont-Ferrand "I am not the judge of what he did before."

"What happened before, it's up to him alone to answer for," Hollande said, adding that he had accepted Morelle's resignation "immediately."

Hollande's approval rating has recently hit a new low of 18 percent despite a Cabinet reshuffle three weeks ago.

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