Seven-year old female elephant Ganga who belongs to a Buddhist temple plays in a park in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, June 14, 2012. Tamed elephants traditionally have an important role in the island's Buddhist customs and are considered a status symbol. Colorfully decorated elephants are used to carry sacred relics in annual Buddhist processions. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

PARIS: The woman who spent about 25 years with French President François Hollande has hit back at Hollande’s current partner for snubbing her in a Twitter message many consider the first major faux-pas of his debut in office.

Ségolène Royal, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2007 just before she and Hollande split, riposted after first lady Valerie Trierweiler tweeted in support of Royal’s opponent in Sunday’s parliamentary election run-off. The incident comes at a critical moment for Hollande and his Socialist Party and prompted Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to call for greater discretion from Trierweiler.

Royal was initially reduced to silence by what media dubbed the “bombshell” of Trierweiler’s public declaration of support for a left-wing rival. The riposte came on Wednesday night, when an emotional Royal acknowledged that she had been deeply offended and deserved greater respect. “I make a simple request – respect for political combat and respect for the mother of a family whose children also hear what is being said.”

Hollande and Royal, who got together at the end of the 1970s, had four children over a quarter of a century where they combined dual political careers and family life. – Reuters