French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday slammed as "grotesque" accusations in a document published by a left-wing investigative website that his 2007 presidential campaign allegedly received funds from deposed Libyan strongman Moamer Qaddafi.

"/> French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday slammed as "grotesque" accusations in a document published by a left-wing investigative website that his 2007 presidential campaign allegedly received funds from deposed Libyan strongman Moamer Qaddafi.

" />


Sarkozy denies Qaddafi funding allegations

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday slammed as "grotesque" accusations in a document published by a left-wing investigative website that his 2007 presidential campaign allegedly received funds from deposed Libyan strongman Moamer Qaddafi.

Sarkozy denies Qaddafi funding allegations

“If he had financed it, I wasn’t very grateful,” Sarkozy said sarcastically, in an apparent reference to the active role that France played in the NATO campaign that led to the strongman’s ouster.

Sarkozy is in the midst of a tight election battle with Socialist rival Francois Hollande and spoke during an interview with TF1 television less than six weeks before the first-round of voting on April 22nd.

On Monday the Mediapart site, a respected source seen as opposed to Sarkozy’s right-wing government, published the report which is based on testimony by a former doctor of a French arms dealer who is alleged to have arranged the campaign donation of up to €50 million ($65 million).

AFP has been unable to confirm the authenticity of the document, but the report has revived long-running allegations that French political camps have benefited financially from kickbacks on arms deals with foreign regimes.

Qaddafi’s son and heir apparent Saif al-Islam last year claimed that Libya financed Sarkozy’s campaign, after Paris abandoned its improving ties with Libya and threw its weight behind the rebellion that eventually deposed and killed the dictator.

“Sarkozy must first give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign. We funded it and we have all the details and are ready to reveal everything,” Saif told the Euronews network.

When asked about Saif’s comments during Monday’s interview, Sarkozy replied: “I am sorry to see you in the role of a spokeswoman for Qaddafi’s son, frankly I’ve known you in better roles.”

“It’s grotesque and I am sorry that I am being interrogated about declarations of Qaddafi or his son on an important channel like TF1,” Sarkozy said.

“When one quotes Mr. Qaddafi, who is dead, his son, who has blood on his hands, that is a regime of dictators, assassins, whose credibility is zero… frankly, I think we have sunk low enough in the political debate.”

The report published by Mediapart was written by private operative Jean-Charles Brisard based on testimony from a former doctor of Ziad Takieddine — a French arms dealer who is already under investigation and who allegedly arranged the campaign donation with Saif.

In his report he alleges “the modalities of the financing of the campaign” of “NS” were “settled during the visit to Libya of NS + BH” on October 6, 2005. “Campaign finance totally settled,” he adds.

The initials “NS” are alleged to refer to Sarkozy, while “BH” to Brice Hortefeux, the former interior minister and longtime Sarkozy ally who is currently a close adviser to the French leader’s current re-election bid.

Contacted by AFP, Brisard refused to make any comment.

Takieddine, interviewed by the news channel France 24, denied the allegations outright. “There’s nothing at all like that,” he said.

Brisard is reported to have been a figure in Edouard Balladur’s failed 1995 presidential campaign — for which then budget minister Sarkozy was spokesman — and now the director of a private business intelligence company.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Leaders Sarkozy and Juppé stumble in race for Elysée

Right-wing candidates for the French presidential election face off in the first round of a US-style primary on Sunday with former president Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-prime minister Alain Juppe fighting to avoid being knocked out by an outsider.

Leaders Sarkozy and Juppé stumble in race for Elysée
Alain Juppé and Nicolas Sarkozy. Photo: AFP

In a contest overshadowed by the election of Donald Trump in the United States, support for the early favourite Juppe has slipped and Francois Fillon, who served as prime minister under Sarkozy, has risen fast.

The right-wing nominating contest is crucial because with the French left divided, the winner is expected to go on to take the presidency in May, beating far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the runoff.

Juppe, 71, entered the two-month-long contest with polls showing him to be France's most popular politician, but his approach of playing the moderate against the fiery Sarkozy and the conservative Fillon appears to be backfiring.

Most polls now show Juppe and Sarkozy are neck-and-neck at around 30 percent, with Fillon close behind after making striking progress in recent weeks.

The two winners on Sunday will go through to the second round run-off a week later.

Two becomes three

“We were expecting a duel but in the end a three-way contest has emerged,” political scientist Jerome Jaffre said in Le Figaro newspaper on Thursday.

Many have noted that 62-year-old Fillon's rise had coincided with the publication of his latest book entitled “Beating Islamic totalitarianism”.

An often confused final TV debate of the seven candidates on Thursday offered few clues about the possible outcome, although viewers polled afterwards said Fillon had performed the strongest.

Sparks flew when Sarkozy was asked about fresh claims that he received millions in funding from the late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi towards his 2007 campaign.

Sarkozy called the question “disgraceful” and refused to answer.

Turning to the Trump effect, the former president said a more isolationist America created “a fantastic opportunity for France and Europe to re-establish a leadership role” on issues including border security and the reform of the UN Security Council.

“The next five years will mark the return of France and Europe to the international scene. America won't be there to put us in the shade,” he said.

Juppe meanwhile said the Trump-era heralded a triple “shock” — in the areas of trade, defence and the environment.

A return to protectionism would be “a tremendous regression”, Juppe said, while warning Europe against being “naive” in its dealings with the United States.

The three leading candidates have similar programmes, underpinned by pledges to reinforce domestic security in a country still under a state of emergency following a series of jihadist attacks.

They also share a desire to reinforce European borders and reduce immigration, while tax cuts also loom large.

The choice will come down to style.

Sarkozy has emphasised his tough-guy credentials, saying it makes him a better choice to handle Trump than the mild-mannered Juppe.

Fillon, who is popular in the business world, has promised “radical” economic measures but is the most conservative of the three on social issues.

Another unknown factor in Sunday's first round is the number of left-wing voters prepared to pay two euros and sign a declaration that they subscribe to “the values of the centre and the right” to vote in the right-wing primary.

Those who do are expected to vote against 61-year-old Sarkozy, who remains a highly divisive figure in France four years after he left office.

When the right-wing candidate is chosen on November 27, it is expected to trigger an announcement from deeply unpopular Socialist President Francois Hollande on whether he intends to bid for re-election.

On Wednesday, Hollande's former economy minister Emmanuel Macron announced he would stand as an independent.

by AFP's Guy Jackson