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Two arrested after French President Macron slapped during crowd walkabout

EU Special Summit in Brussels

French President Emmanuel Macron received an unpleasant welcome during a tour of a village in the department of Drome, southeastern France on Tuesday, when an unidentified man slapped him in the face as he approached local residents to shake hands.

It's not immediately clear what specific grievances prompted the man to attack Macron, with the individual shouting "Down with Macronie!" shortly before slapping the president.

The President's security detail quickly intervened when the man slapped Mr Macron on Tuesday as he approached a crowd of onlookers standing behind a metal fence.

"The man who tried to slap the president and another individual are now being questioned by the gendarmerie", the regional prefecture said in a statement.

The man, who took the French President by the arm, shouted: "Down with Macronia" ('A Bas La Macronie') as he delivered the blow.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, of the left-wing La France Insoumise group, said simply: 'I stand in solidarity with the President'.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the incident was an affront to democracy.

"One is thought to have described himself as an anarchist, but an enquiry is ongoing" said the spokesman.

He told journalists: 'Democratic life needs calm and respect, from everybody involved - from political leaders and citizens like.

"The benefit of all this is that it puts an end to violent and hatred".

The centrist is widely expected to seek re-election in next year's presidential elections and polls show him with a narrow lead over far-right leader Marine Le Pen. "It is unacceptable to attack politicians but even more so the President of the Republic because he is the President of the Republic".

Macron conducted another tour billed as a listening exercise in 2019 in the aftermath of those protests, which shook the country and saw him promise to change his way of governing.