Sarkozy attacked for stealing limelight in Libya AIDS affair

23rd July 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 23, 2007 (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy came under attack from the left-wing opposition Monday for trying to steal the limelight by sending his wife Cecilia to Libya in the Bulgarian nurses affair.

PARIS, July 23, 2007 (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy came under attack from the left-wing opposition Monday for trying to steal the limelight by sending his wife Cecilia to Libya in the Bulgarian nurses affair.

Socialist Party (PS) deputy Benoit Hamon said Sarkozy wanted to take credit for securing the eventual release of the six medical workers, while the real responsibility lay with the European Union.

"You can't at the same time say you want to beef up Europe's diplomatic muscle, and then try to steal the victory just when the EU's about to pull something off -- and all so that Madame Sarkozy can strut around on the republican stage," he said.

Cecilia Sarkozy arrived in Tripoli on Sunday along with Claude Gueant, secretary-general of the presidency, and EU foreign affairs commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

It was her second visit to Libya to try to win the freedom for the five Bulgarians and one Palestinian convicted of infecting children with HIV/AIDS.

"It is extraordinary that just because Mr. Sarkozy wants to find a role for his spouse, the EU should have to drag along the wife of the president in a difficult negotiation," Hamon said.

Pierre Moscovici, a former PS European affairs minister, said Sarkozy was pursuing a strategy of "the cuckoo in the nest".

"He's laying his eggs in someone else's nest. Because basically France has played no part in all of this," he said.

"The important players (in negotiating for the medics) are Britain, which started in 2005, Germany which took up the baton early 2007, and now the EU with commissioner Ferrero-Waldner, who has done all the important work," he said.

"Sarkozy cannot stop himself. He's just got to take for himself what others have done. It's as if basically he's the only one," he said.

The French president's aides have indicated he may travel to Libya this week to meet Moamer Khadafi -- but the visit is presumed to be contingent on the medics' release.

Cecilia Sarkozy's role in the affair is highly unusual for a French president's wife. Previous first ladies have limited themselves to strictly humanitarian endeavours and played no part in diplomacy.

The 49-year-old former PR executive has made it clear she does not want to settle into the traditional life of a first lady, but critics said her involvement in the Libyan affair is more evidence of her husband's excessive personalisation of presidential power.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article