Sarkozy takes refuge in a bar to escape protesters

Some of the protesters outside threw eggs toward the barrier of riot police guarding the cafe.

hidden March 02, 2012 01:04:06 IST
Sarkozy takes refuge in a bar to escape protesters

Bayonne: Several hundred angry protesters booed President Nicolas Sarkozy, forcing him to take refuge in a cafe protected by riot police as he campaigned Thursday in France's southwest Basque country.

Riot police surrounded the Bar du Palais in central Bayonne where Sarkozy holed up to get away from the protesters — some of them Basque nationalists, others carrying posters of rival Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.

Sarkozy takes refuge in a bar to escape protesters

Nicolas Sarkozy goes for a walkabout surrounded by security staff in Bayonne. AP

Inside the cafe, Sarkozy denounced "the violence of a minority and their unacceptable behavior."

He remained in the cafe for about an hour, meeting with residents of Bayonne. Some of the protesters outside threw eggs toward the barrier of riot police guarding the cafe.

The conservative Sarkozy trails Hollande, the front-runner, in the two pronged April and May presidential election.

"Here, we're in France, on the territory of the French republic, and the president of the republic will go everywhere," Sarkozy said once inside the cafe. "And if that doesn't please a minority of troublemakers, too bad for them."

The narrow streets of the historic center of Bayonne, in the French Basque country, were packed with supporters and protesters following Sarkozy during his visit. Tension mounted as Basque separatists threw pieces of paper at him. They were joined by others holding portraits of Hollande and his presidential program.

"If this is the concept of democracy, that the Socialists associate with Basque separatists, if this is it, the country they have in mind, it doesn't make you want to get there," Sarkozy said to reporters inside the cafe.

Sarkozy left the cafe escorted by riot police and protected by an umbrella.

The president's campaign spokeswoman, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, asked Socialists to "respect the rules of democratic debate."

"It's not because you don't have ideas that you have to stop others from expressing theirs," she said.

Sarkozy declared his candidacy on Feb. 15. The latest polls show him narrowing the gap in the first round but lagging far behind in the final round. With the president now actively on the campaign trail, the debate has grown increasingly bitter with harsh denunciations by supporters on both sides.

AP

Updated Date:

Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro at ₹499 for the first year. Use code PRO499. Limited period offer. *T&C apply

also read

Rare Paris painting by Van Gogh to be exhibited ahead of Sotheby’s auction
Arts & Culture

Rare Paris painting by Van Gogh to be exhibited ahead of Sotheby’s auction

Street Scene in Montmartre depicts a windmill named the Pepper Mill, seen from the street under a bright sky, with a man, a women and a little girl walking in front of wooden palisades that surrounded the place.

Tokyo Olympics 2020: USA to begin quest for fourth straight men’s basketball gold against France
Sports

Tokyo Olympics 2020: USA to begin quest for fourth straight men’s basketball gold against France

The mighty US, aiming to win their fourth straight gold and 16th in total, will face the French at Saitama Stadium, north of the Japanese capital, on the first day of the basketball competition.

France to lock horns with arch-rivals All Blacks in 2023 Rugby World Cup opener
Sports

France to lock horns with arch-rivals All Blacks in 2023 Rugby World Cup opener

The two nations have combined to deliver some of the most storied matches in the tournament's history, including the 1987 and 2011 finals, both won by the All Blacks.