Official transferred after Sarkozy faces protests

A regional prefect in La Manche has been reassigned, allegedly for failing to stop protesters who booed President Nicolas Sarkozy during a recent visit. Sarkozy has come under fire for the move, but his office denies the transfer was a punishment.


AFP - President Nicolas Sarkozy came under attack Thursday after he removed a top French regional official from his post allegedly for failing to prevent a noisy protest during a presidential visit.

The attacks came from across the political spectrum, with local council leader Jean-Francois Legrand from Sarkozy's ruling UMP party saying it was "scandalous" that "a representative of the state can be used like a Kleenex."


Sarkozy was reportedly outraged that Jean Charbonniaud, the prefect or state representative in the northern La Manche region, had not deployed enough police to keep 3,000 protestors at bay when he visited the area this month.

Charbonniaud was subsequently removed from his position and was this week appointed to a post in Paris in a move which various politicians have described as a clear demotion.

"This is a state caprice," said Jean Karl Deschamps, a regional opposition leader, adding that: "This is an unacceptable abuse of power."

But Sarkozy's office denied the transfer was a punishment.

Last year the police chief on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica was removed from his job for failing to stop protestors who occupied a villa owned by one of the president's actor friends.

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