French political scene plunged into turmoil after Strauss-Kahn sex charge arrest

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DSK 'finished both as IMF chief and presidential hopeful'


In a blog post published Sunday, former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, also a member of President Sarkozy's UMP party wrote: "Reputation is a thing that one can lean on when the house is on fire. In the case of DSK, the prognostic of probability could fight against the presumption of innocence."

Former Socialist Party leader François Hollande, a declared, front-runner rival for Strauss-Kahn in the party's presidential primaries, warned against any hasty judgment. "We must react with emotion but also with restraint, reserve, with a concern for justice [...] One must avoid making any premature conclusions," he told French TV channel Canal Plus. "To commit, if this is proven, an act of such gravity, does not resemble the man I know," he added, referring to Strauss-Kahn.

Socialist Party vice-president of the Greater Paris regional council Michelle Sabban , one of Strauss-Kahn's supporters for his presidential candidature, said she believed "an international plot" was behind the events in New York in an attempt "to decapitate" the IMF. "He is the most powerful man after Obama," she said. "It is a new form of political assassination."

Socialist Party Euro MP and vice-president of the Gironde general council Gilles Savary agreed that Strauss-Kahn could have been victim of a plot, while also alluding to his alleged reputation for scandal. "Everyone knows that Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a libertine who distinguishes himself from others by not hiding it," he commented in a blog post Sunday. "As a result, it's easy to trap a personality such as Strauss-Kahn, so little resistant to the attractions of the fairer sex."

"To be frank, among DSK's entourage, dirty tricks were expected. If this is one, it's really quite crazy," he added.

Centre-right Modem party leader François Bayrou said: "All this is astounding, regrettable and infinitely disturbing."

Several politicians and political observers in France believe Strauss-Kahn has now become removed from the presidential race, whatever the outcome of the case in New York. Jacques Attali, former advisor to socialist President François Mitterrand and a political commentator, said the IMF chief could neither now remain at the IMF nor run in the Socialist Party primaries for the presidential candidature. "We're going to now have a candidature of Martine Aubry against François Hollande," he said.

French TV news channel i-Télé on Sunday reported that the Accor hotel group, owner of the New York Sofitel, said that the chambermaid was a longstanding employee of the hotel chain and had not previously been involved in any incident with its clients.

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