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French media on alert as Chirac remains hospitalised

Patrick Kovarik, AFP | Archival image shows former French president Jacques Chirac at the Quai Branly anthropology museum in November 2014
3 min

Jacques Chirac remains in a Paris hospital one week after being admitted for a lung infection, with the charismatic former president’s declining health continuing to dominate the front pages in France.

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On September 18, the 83-year-old Chirac was rushed to the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in the French capital, sparking widespread rumours and fevered speculation. Former government minister Christine Boutin even took to Twitter to declare that he had died.

The centre right former president -- who also served as agriculture minister, interior minister, prime minister, and mayor of Paris before becoming president -- remains hospitalised and “continues to receive treatment and care for his lung infection," his son-in-law Frederic Salat-Baroux told AFP on Saturday.

Over the weekend, Chirac’s prolonged hospital stay dominated the front pages; with some recalling the small stroke he suffered back in 2005 and pointing out he has rarely been seen in public since.

Chirac in Le Journal du Dimanche

The Journal de Dimanche weekly published a poll Sunday which showed that 83 percent of French people ‘think positively” about Chirac’s time in the Elysée presidential palace.

And with the French presidential election just eight months away, a majority also said they consider Bordeaux Mayor Alain Juppé to be Chirac’s natural political heir. Juppé remains the frontrunner according to the most recent opinion polls.

Bernadette discharged

Chirac’s wife Bernadette, who was also admitted to hospital on September 21 for “exhaustion”, was discharged on Friday evening, Salat-Baroux said.

The couple had just returned from a visit to Morocco when Chirac was admitted to hospital.

Salat-Baroux said Bernadette was "profoundly affected by the death of her eldest daughter Laurence (in April) and exhausted following the lung infection of her husband."

President from 1995 to 2007, Chirac survived a 2002 attempt on his life by a far-right extremist gunman who fired at his presidential motorcade during a Bastille Day parade.

The centre-right Chirac, who served two terms as head of state, is probably best remembered internationally for his outspoken opposition to the US military intervention in Iraq in 2003.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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