Mobbed And Booed: Sarkozy Hides In A Bar
2 Mar 2012
French President Nicolas Sarkozy had to take refuge in a bar during a visit to the Basque region when he was mobbed and booed by protesters.
Basque separatists and opposition Socialist party supporters crowded around the leader, throwing eggs and hurling insults.
Riot police were on duty outside the Bar du Palais in Bayonne, where Mr Sarkozy was on the campaign trail ahead of the presidential elections later this year.
Some protesters jeered and booed and threw eggs at the bar as others shouted “Nicolas kampora!” which means “Nicolas get out”.
The president was booed from the moment he left his car in the centre of the city and was followed by a jeering crowd all the way to the bar, where he met local voters.
He stayed inside the bar for an hour while police held off protesters, some of whom were holding the electoral programme of his rival, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande .
Mr Sarkozy condemned the incident and partly blamed the opposition.
“I am saddened to see Hollande’s Socialist militants associating with (Basque) separatists in violent protests to terrorise ordinary people who want just one thing: to meet and talk with me,” he said.
His campaign spokesman, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, accused the Socialists of organising “street protests” against the president.
But Manuel Valls, a senior member of Mr Hollande’s campaign team, said his boss condemned any violence and said no Socialists were involved in the Bayonne incident.
The Basque region straddles southwestern France and northern Spain.
Separatist movement ETA carried out years of shootings and bombings as part of a campaign for its independence.
As Mr Sarkozy visited Bayonne, Mr Hollande held his third major campaign rally in the eastern French city of Lyon.
An opinion poll by IFOP earlier this week said the Socialist will receive 28.5% of the vote in the first round of elections in late April, against 27% for Mr Sarkozy.
It predicted far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen would come in third with 17%.