Chirac puts down Sarkozy

15th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 14 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Wednesday put his ambitious and popular Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy in his place, warning that he would have to leave the government if elected to lead the ruling party.

PARIS, July 14 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Wednesday put his ambitious and popular Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy in his place, warning that he would have to leave the government if elected to lead the ruling party.  

During a wide-ranging interview on live television, Chirac said matter-of-factly that he had no problems with Sarkozy because both men knew who was in charge.   "I don't have any problems in my relationship with Nicolas Sarkozy, not any more so than with any other member of the government," Chirac said.  

"I make decisions and he carries them out," he added.  

"No one is obliged to be a minister. I expect each minister to implement his part of the road map...I think government action is founded on two principles: collegiality and good relations with the parliament, and solidarity," he noted.  

The French president said he "would not let controversy lead to a weakening of the government at the very moment that it is regaining its ability to act on behalf of the French people."  

Sarkozy, the feisty 49-year-old who served for two years as interior minister before shifting to the finance ministry in a March government reshuffle, has made no secret of his ambition to succeed Chirac in 2007.  

Many in Chirac's ruling centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) see Sarkozy as the party's salvation after humiliating defeats to the Socialist-led left in this year's regional and European elections.  

"2007 comes in three years. Let's deal with things as they come," Chirac said Wednesday, when asked about the rivalries in the centre-right.  

Sarkozy has not yet revealed whether he will seek to replace former prime minister Alain Juppe as head of the UMP, but Chirac noted that if one of his ministers were to be elected UMP president, he would have to resign immediately or be relieved of his government duties.  

"This is in the interest of our institutions and is not a personal problem, of course," the French leader added.  

"If you have a prime minister who has a minister that is also president of the main party in the majority, that would clearly mean that there would no longer be a prime minister," Chirac explained.  

Sarkozy has used every opportunity to mark out his differences with Chirac, even trumping the president by giving Le Monde newspaper an in-depth interview at the weekend, ahead of Chirac's traditional July 14 television appearance.

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

 

 

 

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