Scandal-hit Sarkozy schedules TV appearance

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President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is battling allegations of illegal cash donations from France's richest woman, will make a special television appearance on Monday, a TV station said.

Sarkozy will take part in a one-hour prime-time evening programme on France 2 television to discuss "all of the current affairs issues," said a statement from the broadcaster released on Friday.

The president has been hit by allegations that Labour Minister Eric Woerth, who was also his campaign fundraiser in 2007, took envelopes of cash from 87-year-old L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

Bettencourt's accountant has told police that she was ordered to put together 150,000 euros to hand over to Woerth in March 2007.

Woerth has strenuously denied taking any illegal donations from Bettencourt and Sarkozy has dismissed the claims as a smear campaign, but the scandal has sparked calls for the high-profile minister to resign.

Sarkozy has faced pressure to fight back in the scandal that has plunged his government into crisis, just days before key legislation on pension reform drafted by Woerth is to go before cabinet.

© 2010 AFP

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