France’s protocol chief’s sacking raises questions on vetting process

PARIS ̵1; France’s top protocol chief was fired this week within hours of taking office over past wrongdoings, sparking anger from the diplomatic corps amid questions over the vetting process at the French foreign ministry.

Philippe Kesnave was briefly Director of State Protocol, a discreet but important position in the French diplomatic machinery with responsibilities that included overseeing official visits by foreign leaders organized by the French President and Prime Minister’s Office.

Three French diplomats told POLITICO that Casanave took office Tuesday morning but was dismissed in the afternoon over alleged misuse of state property while he was France’s consul general in Marrakesh, Morocco, from 2017 to 2021. The diplomats were given anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

According to internal documents obtained by POLITICO, an investigation by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2021 revealed that Cassenouve loaned his official residence, a huge house with a large garden and a swimming pool, to a decorator Was, described as “a friend”.

,[The friend] used the residence as their home, visited friends on weekends and used silverware and dinner service [French] Republic,” the report said. The internal investigation also stated that the friend of the consul also regularly received “young people, possibly prostitutes”, in the consul’s absence.

“It all turns out a Clear ethical lapse, a misconduct that greatly tarnished the reputation of the Consul General in Marrakesh,” it adds.

The decision in April to appoint Cassaigne to the coveted post of director of state protocol has raised questions about the efficacy of the vetting process at France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

One of the three diplomats who spoke to POLITICO expressed concern that “the services are likely [the right information] in their drawers” ​​were not consulted for such an important nomination.

“It’s going to confirm the president’s view that his [diplomatic] The service really sucks,” he added in a reference to past difficult relations between President Emmanuel Macron and French diplomats.

Another senior French diplomat said, “It is silly that there was no screening before the nomination.” “The report is scathing, where are the sanctions?” He added.

The French Foreign Ministry was contacted about vetting procedures and possible sanctions against Cassenve, but did not immediately respond to a request for comment.