May 22, 2022

Former socialist minister Paul Quilès is dead

CARNET NOIR – The daughter of Paul Quilès, former socialist minister of François Mitterrand and mayor of Cordes-sur-Ciel in the Tarn, announced the death of her father on Friday. He was 79 years old.

The former socialist minister and figure of Mitterrandie Paul Quilès died Friday morning in Paris at the age of 79, one of his daughters Emmanuelle Quilès told AFP. “My father passed away this (Friday) morning in Paris. He fought to the end as he always had done in his life for others“, she added. Three days earlier, the death of the politician had been announced in error by the president of the Departmental Council of Tarn.

Mayor of Cors-sur-Ciel in the Tarn for a quarter of a century, he was notably Minister of the Interior and Defense in the 80s and 90s. “All his life, Paul Quilès will have served the Republic, notably at the head of the Ministry of the Interior. I extend my condolences to his family and loved ones “, greeted Gérald Darmanin on Twitter.

Son of an officer and a teacher, Paul Quilès was born on January 27, 1942 in Saint-Denis-du-Sig, in French Algeria. After Polytechnique, he worked until 1978 as an engineer in the energy sector with the oil company Shell. At the same time, this Catholic, former Christian student youth (JEC), entered the PS in 1972 and militated in the Mitterrandist current.

His political rise took off in 1981, when he became the director of the presidential campaign for François Mitterrand who, in May, acceded to the Élysée. In October, during the Socialist Congress in Valence, he launched, referring to the senior administration: “We must not be content to say evasively, like Robespierre (…) in 1794: ‘Heads are going to fall’. You have to say which ones and say it quickly!”. The right is indignant against the one it will nickname from then on “Robespaul”, an argument widely used – wrongly – against him in 1983 when he will seek, in vain, the town hall of Paris against Jacques Chirac.

Appointed Minister of Housing in 1983, Mr. Quilès was promoted to the head of an extended Ministry of Tourism in 1984. From September 1985 to March 1986, he succeeded Charles Hernu at the Ministry of Defense, forced to resign following the case of the “Rainbow Warrior”, name of the Greenpeace ship sabotaged by the French secret services in New Zealand.

He was later found Minister of Posts and Space in the Rocard government (1988-91). He was then again appointed to Housing (and Transport), before obtaining the Interior portfolio, in 1992-93.

A nuclear slayer

Elected in 1997 as chairman of the National Assembly’s Defense Committee, he chaired the following year the parliamentary fact-finding mission on Rwanda.

This father of three was the president of the organization “Initiatives for nuclear disarmament”, aimed at “building a more secure world “. He had written, alone or in collaboration, three books on the question, “Nuclear, a French lie”, “Stop the bomb!” and “The nuclear illusion”.

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