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“Robert Bourgi, the former ‘Mr. Africa’ who fires up the Republic,” headlines French daily Le Monde. Last weekend, this former unofficial advisor of President Nicolas Sarkozy accused former president, Jacques Chirac and his former prime minister, Dominique de Villepin of having “received several million dollars per year in stuffed attaché cases,” from African heads of state in order to finance electoral campaigns.

These revelations smell like “stink bombs,” deplores the Paris daily, noting that “Mr. Bourgi is not just anybody. He was a long-time collaborator of Jacques Foccart, father of the Elysée [presidential palace] Africa section, the inventor of these incestuous relations between France and its former colonies: covert financing to such and such a party in exchange for French support for the reigning African regimes” [known as Françafrique]. In a leader article called The Fifth – A Banana Republic? Le Monde notes that “coming after the musty smells of the Bettencourt case and the illegal surveillance of a Le Monde journalist, this gives a poor and sullied image of our democracy and is unsuitable to an electoral debate required for the high stakes of the moment”.