PARIS (Reuters) - A junior minister in French President Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right government resigned on Sunday after he was accused of sexual harassment by two women, the government said.
One of Georges Tron's accusers said she had been encouraged to speak up by the arrest two weeks ago of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on charges he attempted to rape a chambermaid in New York City.
French prosecutors have opened an inquiry into the accusations against Tron, the minister in charge of the civil service.
"Mr Georges Tron ... today informed Prime Minister Francois Fillon of his resignation from the government," the prime minister's office said in a statement.
"The Prime Minister, together with the President of the Republic, takes note of this decision, which does not in any way prejudice the next steps the justice system will take with regard to the complaints made against Georges Tron, the legitimacy of which he contests," the statement said.
Tron has called the accusations "incredible" and said the two women were dismissed from their posts at the town hall in Draveil, south of Paris, where he is mayor.
Tron's lawyer, Olivier Schnerb has been instructed to file a defamation complaint in response.
On Saturday, Tron told Le Parisien that the question of his resignation was a valid one. "I do not want to become an embarrassment," he told the paper.
Later on Saturday his lawyer said he was not planning to resign, but added: "If the President of the Republic or the Prime Minister show the slightest wish that he leaves the government, he will immediately resign himself to that."
Strauss-Kahn, who had been expected to run for president as the opposition Socialist party candidate in 2012, has resigned from the IMF and vowed to fight the charges.
(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by Helen Massy-Beresford; Editing by Michael Roddy)