In what is probably the most blistering attack on a government minister yet, the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has very publicly criticised this country's junior minister for human rights, Rama Yade.
During a speech at the national convention of the ruling centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP), party at the weekend, Sarkozy gave the minister a very public dressing down.
Even though he never mentioned Yade by name, and she wasn't present to hear what he said, the remarks were clearly aimed at her.
Yade had earned the wrath of the president by refusing to stand for June's elections for the European parliament, preferring to concentrate on domestic politics.
And Sarkozy wasn't shy of expressing exactly what he felt about her decision.
"What is this attitude which consists of saying that there are more important things for the future of our continent than the EU?" he asked the convention.
"Do you really believe we can continue politics (in this country) by ignoring Europe and the European parliament?" he continued.
"The way France can best maintain its role in Europe is by sending the 'best' to the European parliament.
"A political family is made up of those who are willing to lead by example, those who want to convince others and are prepared to take risks.
"We need winners not followers."
So how has it reached the point where Yade, for so long a very clear symbol of Sarkozy's policy of opening up the government to reflect better the political and ethnic diversity of the country, is now in danger of being closeted in a ministry with no real power? And how come she was the target of such an attack?
In this, the fourth in an occasional series looking at some of the women in government who are making their mark on politics here in France, it's time for a look at one who was seen as evidence of Sarkozy "delivering" on several levels.
It hasn't always been an easy ride though - either for Sarkozy or Yade.
When he came to office in May 2007 Sarkozy promised gender parity within the 15-strong cabinet.
Although Yade isn't a front-line minister she has certainly been one with a high profile.
One of Sarkozy's electoral pledges was to include the respect for human rights as a vital part of France’s foreign policy and true to his word he created a position in government - a junior minister reporting immediately to the foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner.
In choosing Yade for the job, Sarkozy was perhaps making one of the most potent statements of intent possible.
Her inclusion in the government - along with Rachida Dati as justice minister and Fadela Amara as junior minister for urban policy - was to many proof that Sarkozy meant what he said.
Moreover Yade, born in Senegal and with a Jewish husband who also happened to be a former member of the Socialist party, brought with her all the personal credentials Sarkozy must surely have been looking for.
Yet that promise to make human rights a pivotal point of France's foreign policy soon ran into problems and Yade became for some the victim and for others the tool of Sarkozy's apparent backtracking.
The first very obvious example was during the visit of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to this country in December 2007.
While Gaddafi was busy signing cheques worth millions of Euros in contracts, Yade spoke out in public and criticised the Libyan leader's human rights record.
She was hauled into Sarkozy's office for a ticking off, but kept her job.
Fast forward to April 2008 and a state visit to Tunisia during which the same pattern of behaviour repeated itself somewhat, although this time Yade was to all intents and purposes "muzzled".
During the visit Sarkozy left international and local human rights groups aghast as he went as far as to congratulate his Tunisian counterpart, Zine al Abidine Ben Ali, for the efforts he had made in "improving" his country’s human rights record.
Yade, who was accompanying him on the trip was prevented at the last minute from meeting representatives of a Tunisian human rights group.
Later that month of course there was an interview in the national daily, Le Monde, when Yade said that Sarkozy had set out specific conditions that needed to be met by the Chinese - after their security clampdown in Tibet - before he would decide whether he would attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic games in Beijing in August.
Yade claimed that she had been misquoted but the paper stuck to its guns and there were general rumblings in some quarters of the media as to why Yade had been allowed to speak out and then do an apparent volte face.
The more kindly interpretation was that it was Sarkozy giving the impression of being concerned about human rights without actually having to make a statement himself.
In a sense, it was suggested, Yade was playing the role of a "spokesperson" saying and retracting without damaging Sarkozy’s image.
The less generous version was that Yade was a loose cannon, who needed to be reigned in constantly.
Last December it was public knowledge that Sarkozy was trying to force Yade to stand in June's elections for the European parliament - a move which would have meant her leaving the government had she been successful in being elected.
Her immediate boss, Kouchner, then fired his own salvo Yade's way when he said in an interview with one of the country's newspapers that it "had been a mistake to appoint a junior minister responsible for human rights as "foreign policy cannot be conducted only in terms of how human rights functions".
Which brings us full circle to last weekend's comments by Sarkozy, which Caroline Roux, a political commentator on the Canal Plus early morning show La Matinale said had been an unprecedented attack by any French president on a serving minister.
"To the best of my recollection this has never occurred before," said Roux.
And she went on to ask the two questions that many others have also been wondering, namely why Sarkozy hasn't already sacked Yade, or why she hasn't resigned herself.
The answer to both Roux's questions could be provided on Wednesday when the two protagonists are due to have a tête-à-tête after the weekly cabinet meeting.
Other stories on Sarkozy's women in government
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Sarkozy's women in government - MAM, a rough ride for even the toughest
Sarkozy's women in government - Rachida Dati, a star on the wane?
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