Sarkozys 'tried everything' to avoid divorce

19th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

19 October 2007, PARIS (AFP) - Cecilia Sarkozy admitted Friday to falling in love with another man but insisted she and French President Nicolas Sarkozy had "tried everything" to avoid the divorce which has gripped the nation.

19 October 2007

PARIS (AFP) - Cecilia Sarkozy admitted Friday to falling in love with another man but insisted she and French President Nicolas Sarkozy had "tried everything" to avoid the divorce which has gripped the nation.

As the split made headlines around the world, the glamorous but single minded 49-year-old ex-first lady told of her torment at being the president's wife in an interview with a regional newspaper.

Explaining her prolonged absence since Sarkozy was elected in May, she said she preferred to be in "the shadows" and out of the public glare.

The day after the divorce by "mutual consent" was announced, Cecilia Sarkozy admitted to the L'Est Republicain she had "fallen in love" with another man in 2005 and went to live with him in New York.

However, she also insisted that she had returned with the intention of "trying to rebuild something", as her husband, a leading light of the right, stepped up his campaign to become France's head of state.

Sarkozy was the first divorcee to become French president and now the first to divorce while in office.

"What happened to me has happened to millions of people: one day you just don't have your place in the couple," Cecilia Sarkozy said in the interview.

"We tried to reconstruct, to rebuild, to put our family before everything else ... We tried everything, I tried everything. It simply was not possible."

Cecilia Sarkozy said she was not cut out to be a president's wife. "I had a husband who was a public man, I always knew that, I accompanied him for 20 years.

"But this is not for me. It is no longer for me," she said, describing herself as "someone who prefers the shadows, serenity, tranquility."

The couple, who were both on their second marriage, had one child together, Louis, now aged 10, who will remain with his mother. They also had two children each from their previous marriages.

Cecilia Sarkozy insisted she had never taken part in any decision-making by the president, comparing her role to that of a "handrail" for the French leader, who has often spoken of his emotional dependence on his wife.

Opposition Socialists accused the president of timing the divorce announcement to grab the headlines from a crippling transport strike seen as the first major challenge to Sarkozy's reform programme.

Some -- but not all -- of Friday's newspapers ran front-page stories on the divorce. "A bachelor at the Elysee" said Le Parisien. "Full Stop" headlined the Paris free-sheet Metro beneath a picture of the couple.

A lawyer for the couple, Michele Cahen, said a judge had pronounced the divorce and that the terms of the separation had been agreed.

According to a CSA Institute poll of 806 adults released Friday, 79 percent of French people believe the divorce will have no political impact, and government spokesman Laurent Wauquiez insisted it would "not affect (Sarkozy's) public commitment and his energy."   

The Sarkozys had a notoriously difficult marriage. When Cecilia Sarkozy ran away in 2005, her husband was also linked to another woman.

They have barely been seen together since he won the election in May. Her last public appearance was in September at the funeral of her first husband, television presenter Jacques Martin.

"She didn't want to participate in presidential life or in public life. It was inevitable," said Partrick Balkany, a member of Sarkozy's UMP party who with his wife Isabelle is a close friend of the couple.

"She left (in 2005), and she came back. And when she came back they really thought they could start all over again. But they couldn't. It is one of those things," he said.

The Sarkozys first met in 1984 when Nicolas -- then mayor of the Paris suburb of Neuilly -- officiated at Cecilia's first wedding. They married 12 years later.

Cecilia Sarkozy, who has a law degree and had worked as a model, a parliamentary assistant and her husband's ministerial adviser, made no secret of her impatience with the conventional idea of a president's wife.

In an interview before the election, she said the notion of first lady "bores me. I prefer going round in cowboy boots and combat trousers. I don't fit the mould."


Subject: French news

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