Moving on after the top job? Precedents for President Chirac

12th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 12, 2007 (AFP) - Although he announced he would not be seeking a third term as president of France, Jacques Chirac hinted that he might want to prolong his career as a statesman once he steps down.

PARIS, March 12, 2007 (AFP) - Although he announced he would not be seeking a third term as president of France, Jacques Chirac hinted that he might want to prolong his career as a statesman once he steps down.

And although only one of his own recent predecessors has followed that route, the 74-year-old political veteran would be in illustrious company on the international stage.

Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who served as French president from 1974 to 1981, was notably asked in 2001 to head the body which drafted the EU's Constitutional Treaty. But the document suffered the indignity of being rejected by his own compatriots in a 2005 referendum.

Now aged 81, the centrist who founded the UDF party now represented by presidential candidate Francois Bayrou still keeps busy in the local politics of his central Auvergne region.

Chirac's three other predecessors within living memory -- General Charles de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou and Francois Mitterrand -- all died either in office or not long after leaving it.

De Gaulle, France's wartime leader who returned to power in 1958 to found the Fifth Republic, was rebuffed in a referendum in April 1969, in the wake of the massive social upheaval of May 1968.

Then aged 78, he resigned and withdrew to his country retreat to write his memoirs, dying just over 18 months later in November 1970.

His successor Georges Pompidou was to pass away in office in 1974, less than four years into his seven-year term.

Mitterand, who was replaced by Chirac in 1995 after serving two full terms, also devoted his post-presidential life mainly to writing. He died of cancer in January 1996, less than a year after leaving power.

Elsewhere, a number of leaders have gone on to distinguished careers after leaving office: former US president Jimmy Carter; South Africa's iconic leader Nelson Mandela; and the onetime president of Finland Martti Ahtisaari.

Jimmy Carter, US president from 1977 to 1981, pursued a long career as an international peace negotiator and pro-democracy advocate, an activity that eventually earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Carter, now aged 82, could afford to rest on his laurels, but remains active with the Carter Center, the human rights organisation he set up with his wife Rosalynn.

Nelson Mandela, led South Africa from 1994 to 1999 after having led the fight against apartheid from prison.

After stepping down as the first democratically elected leader of South Africa, he worked on several African mediation projects, notably in Burundi.

He also took part in the fight against the deadly HIV virus that causes AIDS. At 88, he now makes few public appearances.

And 69-year-old Martti Ahtisaari, president of Finland between 1994 and 2000, remains very much in the news. He was appointed last year by the United Nations to supervise talks on the final status of the former Serbian province of Kosovo.

Before that he worked on resolving a wide variety of conflicts, notably in Indonesia's Aceh province.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, President Jacques Chirac

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