France bids adieu to former President Jacques Chirac

Former US President Bill Clinton and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are among dozens of past and present world leaders attending a memorial service for France’s Jacques Chirac.

A choir sang as the late president’s former security guards carried his coffin, which was draped in the national flag, into Saint-Sulpice church in Paris.

Chirac died last week at the age of 86. He served two terms as president and twice as prime minister.

Monday was declared a day of national mourning.

Among the mourners at Monday’s service were all three living former presidents of France – Giscard d’Estaing, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen – whose party won the biggest share of votes in France at the last European elections – was a notable absence from the funeral after the Chirac family made it clear she was not welcome.

During his first presidential term (1995-2002), Jacques Chirac took France into the single European currency. At the start of his second term (2002-2007), he spearheaded international opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq.

His later years were blighted by corruption scandals, including a conviction related to his time as mayor of Paris and allegations he was given briefcases of cash by African leaders – which he strenuously denied.

During the weekend, thousands of people queued in Paris to see the coffin of the late president as it lay in state.

Source : Various

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