Sun, Oct 07, 2007 - Page 6 News List

France's spotlight falls on Sarkozy's marital split rumor

THE GUARDIAN , PARIS

There was renewed speculation in France on Friday over the relationship between President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Cecilia. But the Elysee palace refused to comment on rumors that the president and his wife might announce their separation.

The president's spokesman, David Martinon, told a press briefing: "I don't comment on newsroom rumors, and certainly not that one."

Asked whether Cecilia Sarkozy would go with her husband to Moscow next week, he said: "I don't know."

In a country where politicians' private lives were once off limits, media speculation about Cecilia Sarkozy's role abounded this week after she declined to accompany her husband to Bulgaria. She was to accept the country's highest medal of honor after she negotiated with Muammar Qaddafi to secure the release of Bulgarian nurses imprisoned in Libya.

"Where has Cecilia gone?" asked Le Parisien of the first lady, who has appeared beside her husband only fitfully since his election victory in May.

Her spokeswoman, Carina Alfonso Martin, said the Sarkozys had decided that she would stay at home because her diplomatic foray in Libya had prompted so much controversy in France.

Speculation continued when an interview with Cecilia Sarkozy about her friend Rachida Dati, the justice minister, scheduled to air tomorrow, was replaced with an appearance by the president himself.

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