Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president of France (2007-2012), revealed the relations he had with African presidents and others from the Maghreb. In a book called “The Time of Storms”.
He said that the meetings with former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika “cannot last less than three hours.” “.
In the first part of his memoirs “In a Time of Storms” that was issued at the end of last month, Nicolas Sarkozy, the former President of France (2007 – 2012), devoted long sections to the relations that he had with some heads of state in Africa and the Maghreb, similar to Abdelaziz Bouteflika as well as the King of Morocco, Mohamed VI, the late Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, and the former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and others.
Another portrait in subdued tones is that of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, whom Nicolas Sarkozy visited in July and again in December 2007.
“To converse with him took time. The unit of measurement was three hours. If a meeting lasted less, it could be considered to have been shortened. There was one detail that bothered me. He didn’t want to converse face to face. We were always sitting side by side. You had to turn your head constantly to look at each other. I often left the residence where he received me, with a famous stiff neck. I also had to accept that the first hour (and it was a minimum) was devoted to what he called “the war of liberation”. There followed a procession of reproaches about the injustices and atrocities to which all this had given rise….
I also had to justify what he called my Moroccan tropism. I defended myself vigorously even if, internally, I said to myself: “At least when I am in Rabat, the king does not reproach me for the protectorate! »
In Morocco, more precisely in Marrakech, Nicolas Sarkozy went on an official trip in October 2007. And reading the moving account he gives of this trip in his Memoirs, it is difficult not to agree with the Algerian president on his Cherifian ‘tropism’, which he clearly assumes.
The exact opposite, finally, of a Muammar Gaddafi to whom Sarkozy devotes vengeful phrases which will be, one can imagine, variously commented on by those who maintain that the Libyan leader financed the presidential campaign of the author of Time of Storms (an affair that will certainly be discussed in Volume 2 to be published).
Returning to the release of the Bulgarian nurses held in Libya, in which he played a major role, Nicolas Sarkozy believes that Gaddafi’s controversial visit to Paris in December 2007, during which he did “everything that this disturbed mind could imagine, including pitching his tent in the garden of the French official residence at the Hotel Marigny”, was “the price to pay” to thank him for his leniency.
Sarkozy describes their exchanges as follows: “I was surprised by the real grunts that emanated from his person. He spoke neither English nor French. So we used an interpreter on both sides of the phone. But most of the time he spoke using onomatopoeia and indistinct noises. Then he would get drunk with endless tirades.
It is with the Tunisia of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, to whom he pays a short working visit far from the gaze of journalists, that Nicolas Sarkozy closes the story of his Maghreb “road trip” of 2007. The Tunisian autocrat appears to him as “a rather strange man” with dyed hair and a face “impastoed, sometimes swollen, letting me think that cosmetic surgery may have left its mark”.
If he considers him “more lucid than many of his counterparts,” although “his real Achilles’ heel” is his wife Leïla and especially his in-laws, “symbols of corruption,” Sarkozy cannot help but notice the lack of spontaneity in the official and popular welcome reserved for him on Avenue Bourguiba, in the heart of Tunis.
At the very least, Nicolas Sarkozy admits to having felt ‘a certain sympathy’ for Ben Ali, as he did for his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak, before adding with honesty that his fall four years later completely caught him by surprise: ‘Our ambassadors and our embassies, our specialists and our intelligence services, our businessmen and our elected representatives had not felt, anticipated or imagined anything,” he said.