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Illness could undermine French leader Chirac

Illness could undermine French leader Chirac
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He is back at home, but analysts believe the fallout of Jacques Chirac’s stay in hospital could yet weaken him politically. The French President was treated in a Paris hospital for a blood vessel problem that affected his vision.

Doctors have ordered a period of rest and told him to avoid air travel for six weeks, meaning he will miss next week’s UN summit. He told reporters outside the hospital: “Now I’m going to go home and start doing things again. The doctors advised me, in their words, that for a week I should be “sensible”. The air of secrecy surrounding his illness has drawn criticism from opponents and prompted questions over his political future. His illness follows a series of political setbacks that has coincided with a slump in his popularity ratings. Chirac has not said whether he will stand again in the 2007 presidential election but commentators say his bout of ill health will further undermine his chances.