French President Francois Hollande and Valérie Trierweiler Split After Alleged Affair
01/25/2014 AT 02:10 PM EST
French president Francoise Hollande and longtime companion Valérie Trierweiler have officially separated, with Hollande announcing "the end of their life together" Saturday evening.
In a statement made to Agence France-Presse, Hollande, speaking as a private citizen, said, "I have ended the life in common that I have shared with Valérie Trierweiler."
The announcement is the latest wrinkle in a love-triangle scandal that has roiled French politics at its highest levels and spread across borders.
Saturday's brief announcement ends an unprecedented 18-month period in which Trierweiler, 48, a respected Paris Match journalist, had been France's de facto first lady. A twice-divorced mother of three, Trierweiler had been Hollande's companion and partner since 2007. An intimate political advisor, she was key in remaking his image and guiding him to election success.
The love triangle – involving an unwed president, his longtime girlfriend and a second paramour, living 60 yards from the presidential palace – has dominated French politics since tabloid Closer first claimed on Jan. 9 that Hollande, 59, had an affair with actress Julie Gayet, 41.
Trierweiler was hospitalized shortly after, with media outlets speculating that the alleged affair had taken a toll on her health.
The allegations, which Hollande has never denied, surfaced at the president's annual New Year's presidential press conference on Jan. 14, where the president was asked whether Trierweiler should still be considered the nation's first lady.
"Everyone in his personal life goes through hardships," replied Hollande. "This is the case for us. These are painful moments, but I have one principle: that private matters be dealt with private."
Trieweiler left La Lanterne, the presidential retreat in Versailles where she had been recuperating since leaving the hospital, before Hollande announced their split on Saturday. She is expected to arrive in India on Sunday where she's scheduled to make several appearances – as a private citizen – in support of the charity Action Against Hunger.