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France

Bruni steps into the breach

RFI

The wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy appeared on television last night to quell rumours of marital strife between France’s first couple, as well as the subsequent rumours that the Elysée has ordered an official investigation into the source of the gossip. But they just won’t go away.

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Former supermodel Carla Bruni-Sarkozy struck out at rumours of infidelity. But the president is also accused of having ordered an official investigation into the source of the aspersions that were cast on his marriage. Meanwhile sections of the French press mocked the incoherent messages coming from the Elysée.

“I have come to put into perspective a matter that has absolutely no importance and that has taken on ridiculous proportions,” Bruni-Sarkozy told Europe 1 Wednesday. “We have been victims of rumours and it’s not very nice, but what my husband cares about is the French and France.”

Going on to cite the French writer and playwright Beaumarchais – “rumour is part of the human condition” – she added that she and her husband were good friends with former minister of justice, Rachida Dati, who was accused of stirring up the rumours. The presidential couple give no credence to these accusations, she said.

Her statement contradicted the secretary general of the Elysée Claude Guéant, who was quoted in the Canard Enchaîné the day before as saying that Sarkozy wanted nothing more to do with Dati. After Bruni’s television appearance he clarified his position.

“Yesterday’s truth is not necessarily today’s,” he said.

But the director of the interior ministry’s information office, Bernard Squarcini, has told the media that he was employed by the chief of police Frédéric Péchenard to investigate where the rumours came from. He said the enquiry would have included computer and telephone tapping.

Dati herself was interviewed on the RTL radio station on Wednesday morning. She said it was scandalous that her name had been dragged into the affair.

Thierry Herzog, the president’s lawyer, did not exclude the possibility of bringing a case against the perpetrator, and the president’s adviser, Pierre Charon, said the rumour-mongering was part of plot against Sarkozy. Bruni said both were moved by concern for her and her husband but she did not agree with either.

“It was assuredly a day of cease-fire,” according to French daily Le Parisien.

Left-wing paper Libération took a cynical line on Bruni’s appearance.

“The exhibitionist presidency continues before a public reduced to being vaudeville spectators,” it said, attributing the plot thesis directly to the Elysée.

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