Sarkozy says Socialists using Gaddafi as distraction

Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:49pm GMT

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy dismissed a report that deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi sought to fund his 2007 campaign as a ploy by Socialist opponents to distract from the public reappearance of disgraced IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

A week ahead of the decisive second round vote on May 6, investigative website Mediapart said it had uncovered a document from Libya's former secret services showing that Gaddafi's government had decided to finance Sarkozy's run at the presidency when he was interior minister.

Sarkozy, whose government had played a key role in the ouster of Gaddafi last year, has repeatedly denied receiving any money from the former Libyan leader, who was captured and killed by fighters from the Libyan National Liberation Army last year.

Sarkozy said that the Socialists were using the report as an attempt to distract attention from the reappearance of Strauss-Kahn, who had been the runaway favourite for the party's presidential ticket before he was arrested last May on charges of sexually abusing a New York hotel maid.

In an interview published by London's Guardian newspaper on Friday, Strauss-Kahn said that operatives linked to Sarkozy had torpedoed his presidential bid by ensuring his sexual encounter with the maid was made public.

"You see that this is an attempt to create a distraction after the return to public life of Strauss-Kahn," Sarkozy told Le Parisien-Dimanche newspaper. "They don't want anyone to remember they wanted to make him the next president of the French republic."

The Socialists' candidate Francois Hollande leads Sarkozy in opinion polls by around 10 percentage points ahead of Sunday's second round vote.

Mediapart, staffed by a number of veteran French newspaper and news agency journalists, said it had a 2006 document signed by Gaddafi's former intelligence chief Moussa Koussa which stated his government would pay 50 million euros for Sarkozy's campaign.

Later on Sunday, in an interview on Canal+ television, Sarkozy said the document was a fake.   Continued...

Nicolas Sarkozy, France's President and UMP party candidate for the 2012 French presidential election, delivers his speech at a political rally as he campaigns in Cournon-d'Auvergne, near Clermont-Ferrand, central France, April 28, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Pratta
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