French political class divided on Strauss-Kahn
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Last Updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2011, 13:49
Paris: Was Dominique Strauss-Kahn sincere and humble, or unconvincing and laughable?

French reaction was divided on Tuesday after the first public appearance in France by Strauss-Kahn, a French presidential hopeful until his May 14 arrest on accusations of sexual assault by a New York hotel maid.

The only agreement within the political class was that there would be no quick return to politics for the man known here as DSK, and even some fellow Socialists said it was time for France to move on without him.

Strauss-Kahn told TF1 yesterday night that his encounter with Sofitel housekeeper Nafissatou Diallo was a "moral failing" that he deeply regrets but insisted there was no violence.

The charges against him in New York were dropped but Strauss-Kahn confirmed that fallout from his arrest put him out of the running for the 2012 race.

He also was forced to leave his post as chief of the International Monetary Fund.

Strauss-Kahn's TV appearance drew 13.4 million viewers to their TV screens more than a fifth of the French population and 47 per cent of the audience share, according to Mediametrie, which measures media markets.

The last time such a high score was reached was in November 2005, during the fiery unrest that gripped France's troubled housing projects.

Political rivals and lawyers for Diallo criticised Strauss-Kahn for failing to give his version of what happened in the hotel room where the maid who is bringing a civil suit against him claims she was attacked as she entered to clean.

"Mr Strauss-Kahn distorted by transforming (the interview) into a magic sponge that cleanses him of everything that happened in New York ... ," Thibault de Montbrial, Diallo's lawyer in Paris said.

"We look forward to greeting him in our offices and asking him the questions the reporter failed to do," Diallo lawyers Kenneth Thompson and Douglas Wigdor who are bringing the civil suit in New York said in a reaction to Strauss-Kahn's TV appearance.

They dismissed his TV time as a "desperate ploy" for public sympathy.

Ploy or not, it worked for Socialist Party stalwart, Jack Lang, a former culture minister.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, September 20, 2011, 13:49

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