FRANCE: President Jacques Chirac says he stands by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin in scandal over an...
- Title: FRANCE: President Jacques Chirac says he stands by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin in scandal over an apparent attempt to smear Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy
- Date: 11th May 2006
- Summary: (EU) PARIS, FRANCE (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS: NEWSPAPER STAND ON PARIS STREET (2 SHOTS) VARIOUS OF MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERs WITH FRENCH PRIME MINISTER DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN ON FRONT PAGE (5 SHOTS)
- Reuters ID: LVA7VTUE6SOR3JDCQRG7BF9ISBXR
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Duration: 00:00:35
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Story Text: French President Jacques Chirac said on Wednesday (10 May) he stood by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and his government in a scandal over an apparent attempt to smear Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. "I have total confidence in Dominique de Villepin to carry out the mission I have entrusted him. And I expect of him that he accelerates even further the pace of his actions. Each one must do his job, with energy, without calculation, with the only valid obsession of [defending] the national interest, the interest of all the French", he said in an rare, unscheduled statement after a cabinet meeting.
The murky Clearstream affair, which concerns a fake list of politicians suspected of financial fraud abroad, has ensnared Villepin because he ordered a confidential probe into the list that could damage his main rival Sarkozy politically. Villepin has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. The incident has fueled the antagonism of the opposition Socialist Party against the weakened Villepin. At a tempestuous session at the National Assembly last week, secretary general Francois Holande demanded the resignation of the whole conservative government headed by Villepin. "This affair [Clearstream], Mr Prime Minister, reveals a dreadful atmosphere at the highest level of government: manouvering, manipulation, suspicion, settling of scores, everything is there. Do you realize, Mr Prime Minister, that today you are compelled to denying having ordered an investigation against the Number 2 member of your own government?", Holande threw at Villepin and added grimly: "How can the government have fallen this low because of you?"
Villepin, already weakened by the prior riots and CPE crisis, has vowed to hold on until the end, and on Wednesday (10 May) at the weekly ministers' council he reiterated his decision to jumpstart the government out of its current state of paralysis.
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