Ismaël Emelien, a close aide to President Emmanuel Macron whose name has recently been linked to the so-called “Benalla Affair”, has become the latest member of the president’s entourage to announce his resignation.
Emelien, who served as Macron’s “special advisor” and was frequently described as his closest confidant, said in an interview with French weekly Le Point on Monday that he would be quitting by early April at the latest.
The 31-year-old’s name had recently surfaced in a sprawling investigation involving the president’s former top security aide Alexandre Benalla, who faces a number of charges after he was filmed roughing up protesters at a May Day rally last year.
Revelations over the summer that Macron’s office knew about that incident but kept Benalla in his job led to accusations of a presidential cover-up.
In his interview on Monday, Emelien denied his resignation was linked to the Benalla case, stating instead that he was leaving his position in order to publish a book on “progressive politics” – Macron having barred his collaborators from publishing while in office.
A long-time friend of Macron, Emelien first started working for the former investment banker when he was appointed finance minister in 2014 under former president François Hollande.
A secretive figure, he played an important part in the creation of the En Marche movement, which became Macron’s launch-pad to the presidency, and is credited with developing his distinctive communications strategy once at the Élysée Palace, using social media to release snippets of presidential life.
Emelien is the second member of Macron’s inner circle to quit this year, following the president’s head of communications, Sylvain Fort.