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Newly-elected member of parliament Rachel Keke did not deny the allegations but insisted she had changed since a labour struggle against global hotel giant Accor. — Reuters pic

Thursday, 23 Jun 2022 9:37 PM MYT

PARIS, June 23 — A former cleaner recently elected to France’s parliament on a left-wing alliance ticket has admitted to sharing posts years ago in support of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, but insisted she had changed her views.

Hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) MP Rachel Keke beat French President Emmanuel Macron’s former sports minister Roxana Maracineanu in Sunday’s legislative elections that saw Macron lose his majority.

Keke made a name for herself after winning a gruelling 22-month-long battle for better working conditions in the Paris hotel where she cleaned, sparking LFI’s proposal that she run for MP as part of the broad NUPES left-wing alliance.

Days after being elected, messages surfaced that appear to show her support for Le Pen and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose Russia- and Iran-backed regime is accused of crimes against humanity.

Keke, 48, allegedly shared posts backing Le Pen during the 2017 election and content from the far-right website Fdesouche, according to Fdesouche itself, which compiled a series of posts.

On Facebook Keke did not deny the allegations but insisted she had changed since a labour struggle against global hotel giant Accor, which owns the Ibis hotel where she worked.

“A few years ago, I shared on Facebook posts that absolutely do not reflect who I am and what I stand for today in my political struggle,” Keke said late yesterday.

“I learnt a lot from my union battle and the fight at Ibis Batignolles… As MP for LFI and NUPES, I fully share the struggles and values of these organisations,” Keke added.

But critics, including defeated MP Maracineanu, slammed Keke for the posts.

“She shared racist and homophobic posts. I remind (you) that it’s an offence. But she assures us that she’s changed. All is well. Her voters will judge,” Maracineanu said on Twitter.

After winning on Sunday, Keke said she would bring the “voices of the voiceless” to parliament.

Born in Ivory Coast, Keke arrived in France aged 26 in 2000.

She worked as a hairdresser before becoming a hotel cleaning lady, and was naturalised in 2015.

She is part of a string of MPs from more diverse profiles mostly from LFI and Le Pen’s party, National Rally, to have been elected to parliament in the legislative elections, although MPs from a well-off socioeconomic background remain the rule. — AFP