The resignation of Fillon and the cabinet is seen as an effort to galvanise Sarkozy's support base ahead of 2012 presidential vote [Reuters]

France's president has accepted the resignation of Francois Fillon, the country's prime minister, and of his entire cabinet, paving the way for a long-expected government reshuffle.

Nicola Sarkozy will name a new prime minister and cabinet on Sunday following their resignation, government officials and the governing UMP party said.

The office of Sarkozy said in a statement on Saturday that the resignation was approved, "thus putting an end to Mr. Francois Fillon's functions".

The resignation comes after Sarkozy's UMP party suffered a heavy defeat in March's regional polls that served as a last major electoral test before the 2012 presidential elections.

The reshuffle is widely seen as an attempt to galvanise his conservative support base ahead of the vote.

The resignation is a traditional formality, allowing the head of state to pick new ministers without having to fire his existing team.

Sarkozy is expected to stick with proven politicians, including his trusted ally Francois Fillon, and avoid major surprises when he switches a handful of ministers.

Source: Agencies