Former Prime Minister attacks Sarkozy 'yes-men'

5th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 5, 2007 (AFP) - Former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin Wednesday launched a virulent attack on his one-time rival President Nicolas Sarkozy, accusing him of cultivating a court of fawning "yes-men".

PARIS, Sept 5, 2007 (AFP) - Former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin Wednesday launched a virulent attack on his one-time rival President Nicolas Sarkozy, accusing him of cultivating a court of fawning "yes-men".

"People sometimes confuse power and glory," Villepin told France Inter radio. "You do not take a country forwards by surrounding yourself with shoe-shiners, yes-men and courtisans."

Villepin charged that a "court-like mentality is rampant" in Sarkozy's entourage, describing it as a "dangerous virus" and saying he wished "Nicolas Sarkozy's friends were able to speak up to him, give him an alternative view".

Sarkozy has been criticised by the left-wing opposition for centralising power around himself and a close team of advisors, making announcements in place of top ministers and repeatedly slapping them down when they are seen as straying off-message.

Villepin drew a link between Sarkozy's attitude and the 17th-century Moliere play "The Bourgeois Gentleman", the tale of a boorish, self-centred nouveau-riche who makes himself ridiculous by trying to become an aristrocrat.

He said he was "astonished" and "concerned" by the publication last month of a book by French playwright Yasmina Reza, offering a behind-the-scenes account of Sarkozy's quest for the presidency.

"Power is not meant to be consecrated this way, it is meant to be held accountable," Villepin charged, vowing to act as the government's "conscience".

"We need to move ahead with our eyes open," he said, pointing at France's economic difficulties -- with a growth forecast for 2007 far lower than expected.

Villepin, who faces possible charges over the so-called Clearstream affair, an attempt to smear Sarkozy in the years before he became president, has gone on the offensive against the government in a string of recent interviews.

He repeated Wednesday that the Clearstream affair had been made to look like a political plot in which he had been out to get Sarkozy, but was in reality a far more complex industrial and defence affair.

The former prime minister ordered an investigation in 2004 into faked documents that falsely suggested Sarkozy had laundered bribes from the sale of French frigates to Taiwan, via accounts at Luxembourg-based bank Clearstream.

At the time, the pair were bitter rivals for the forthcoming ruling party nomination in the presidential race.

AFP

Subject: French news

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