Chirac attacked for pardoning disgraced minister

26th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 26, 2006 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac stood accused Friday of running a "banana republic" after he granted an amnesty to disgraced International Olympic Committee (IOC) member and ex-sports minister Guy Drut.

PARIS, May 26, 2006 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac stood accused Friday of running a "banana republic" after he granted an amnesty to disgraced International Olympic Committee (IOC) member and ex-sports minister Guy Drut.

"Jacques Chirac is acting like the prince of a banana republic," Green Party deputy Noël Mamère charged on France Inter radio, following the announcement late Thursday of Drut's amnesty for "services to the nation".

He warned the president's move was certain to "fuel the French people's loathing towards their political leaders".

Drut, a deputy of the ruling UMP party, was given a 15-month suspended jail sentence in October for picking up a EUR 3,000 monthly salary for a non-existent job from 1990 to 1993. He was later suspended from the IOC.

A deputy from the government's centrist ally the UDF, Gilles Artigues, said the amnesty — which he accused Chirac of trying to slip through unnoticed over a long holiday weekend — would have "a devastating effect".

He said it revealed the lack of an "impartial state" in France and risked playing into the hands of the far-right — which regularly brands mainstream French leaders as decadent.

Meanwhile Socialist Party (PS) lawmaker Arnaud Montebourg accused Chirac on Europe 1 radio of "organising impunity for himself and his friends".

Pierre Lellouche, of the ruling UMP party, admitted on RTL radio there was a "risk" the move would be misunderstood, further damaging the election prospects of a centre-right already rocked by a complex dirty tricks scandal.

The 54-year-old Drut, who was 110m hurdles champion at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, welcomed the decision on Friday, saying he was "satisfied and relieved".

Chirac's office said the amnesty — granted under a 2002 law for Drut's services to the nation, "notably in the sporting domain" — would allow him to resume his seat at the IOC, "which is essential for France and the defence of its interests in the sporting world".

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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