Socialists accuse Sarkozy of abuse of power

1st February 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 31, 2007 (AFP) - France's Socialists on Wednesday urged President Jacques Chirac to ensure the fair conduct of the presidential race, a the right-wing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy faced fresh accusations of abusing his powers as interior minister. The row surrounds allegations -- denied by Sarkozy -- that he ordered a police intelligence service controlled by his ministry to investigate his Socialist rivals, as well as private citizens living near his Paris headquarters.

PARIS, Jan 31, 2007 (AFP) - France's Socialists on Wednesday urged President Jacques Chirac to ensure the fair conduct of the presidential race, a the right-wing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy faced fresh accusations of abusing his powers as interior minister.
 
The row surrounds allegations -- denied by Sarkozy -- that he ordered a police intelligence service controlled by his ministry to investigate his Socialist rivals, as well as private citizens living near his Paris headquarters.

"We call on the highest authorities, on the president of the republic, to guarantee that the means of the state are used impartially," the Socialist leader in the National Assembly, Jean-Marc Ayrault, told reporters.

"A minister of the republic, candidate for the presidency, is using the resources linked to his position against other candidates -- this is very serious".

"Mr Sarkozy's anti-republican behaviour is a warning sign of how he would turn the state into his own apparatus if elected," Jack Lang, special advisor to the Socialist candidate Segolene Royal, charged in a statement.

On Wednesday the left-wing Nouvel Observateur weekly reported that police intelligence agents had been questioning local residents near Sarkozy's headquarters in Paris, and putting them on file.

The claims sparked an uproar in the opposition ranks, although a French police union said the General Intelligence (RG) agency had merely carried out routine security checks as is required for any member of government.

In the past week, a satirical French newspaper twice reported that the agency investigated one of Royal's campaign allies, as well as the candidate's own property portfolio.

Sarkozy has firmly denied using the agency for political ends, but France's data privacy commission, the CNIL, wrote to the RG Wednesday to ask to see its file on Royal's ally, the former Greenpeace France chief Bruno Rebelle, which was updated when he joined her team.

Slipping behind Sarkozy in the polls, the Socialist party has focussed a counterattack on Sarkozy's decision to stay at the interior ministry until late March, despite charges that it gives him an unfair advantage in the presidential race.

Sarkozy repeated on Wednesday that he had no intention of standing down early "just because the Socialist Party is losing its temper and its candidate is doing badly in the polls."

A new IPSOS poll gives Royal just 46 percent of the vote to Sarkozy's 54 percent, her worst score since she entered the race in November.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Presidential elections, Sarkozy

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