Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sarkozy re-election uncertain after Gaddafi allegations

Nicholas Sarkozy's re-election looks uncertain following allegations that the former Libyan dictator contributed some €50 million to his 2007 presidential election campaign.

While the reports will be denied, the allegations will be damaging for Sarkozy who is already experiencing setbacks in his bid to be re-elected [Telegraph].

France was instrumental in helping remove Gaddafi from power, but the close relationship with the former dictator in the past may scupper the French president's bid for a second term in office.

The allegations are similar to those that emerged a year ago when Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam claimed Libya helped finance the 2007 campaign and demanded Sarkozy return the money. In an interview with Euronews, Saif al-Islam, who is currently being held in Libya after his father's defeat and death, threatened to make details of the bank transfers public after the French leader threw his weight behind opposition forces.

Now it appears that some of those details have been uncovered with the French investigative website Mediapart claiming to have seen a confidential note suggesting Gaddafi contributed up to €50 million [£42 million] to Sarkozy's election fund.

"We knew these documents existed but it is the first time we have had the details of what was in them," Mediapart journalist Fabrice Arfi told the Guardian. "And there are lots of details, including dates, places and amounts."

Mediapart claims that the money was laundered through bank accounts in Panama and Switzerland. It is alleged that a Swiss bank account was opened in the name of the sister of Jean-Francois Cope, the leader of Sarkozy's ruling UMP party, and the president's right-hand-man. The money was then allegedly distributed through an arms dealer called Ziad Takieddine, who acted as a middle man between Arab despots and French politicians.

Shortly after Sarkozy's election, Colonel Gaddafi was invited to Paris and allowed to pitch his bedouin tent in the grounds of an official French residence close to the Elysée Palace. He was described as the "Brother Leader" by the French as the relationship between the two countries softened [Daily Mail].

Latest polls put Sarkozy neck and neck with his main rival François Hollande [Euronews]. Some polls show him slightly ahead with 28.5% and Hollande at 27% while Marine le Pen, the far right candidate, trails behind with 16% [BBC].

[Pictured: The French newspaper Le Figaro dated 26th July 2007, as it reported on the reconciliation between France and Libya]

tvnewswatch, London, UK 

No comments: