France’s most popular politician, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, is under fire in a book published today. In a conflict of interests scandal, he is being urged to explain how he came to earn huge sums from African governments.
“The World According to K” details his lucrative work as a consultant on health policy in Africa while out of government. It offers no proof to back allegations he used his public position to ensure outstanding sums of money owed to him privately were paid. But politicians from across the board are demanding clarification. Socialist deputy Arnaud Montebourg questioned whether Kouchner is able to speak freely, independently and sincerely in the name of France, to those from whom he has received money. Kouchner denies any conflict of interest. He is quoted today as calling certain aspects of the book “grotesque and sickening” attacks. The minister’s lawyer Georges Kiejman says there is no link between public money and cash Bernard Kouchner may have received as a consultant. He has pointed out his client’s two-fold experience in the health sector as both a doctor and a former health minister. Kouchner abandoned the Socialist Party to join conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy’s cabinet in 2007.