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France

Death of Philippe Séguin, politician and chief financial auditor

Article published on the 2010-01-07 Latest update 2010-01-07 09:24 TU

Philippe Séguin at his appointment to the Court of Financial Auditors in 2004.Photo: Reuters

Philippe Séguin at his appointment to the Court of Financial Auditors in 2004.
Photo: Reuters

Philippe Séguin, former President of the National Assembly and President of the Public Audit Office, has died suddenly aged 66. Tributes have been paid across the political spectrum.

Séguin died from a heart attack at his home in Paris in the early hours of 7 December.

The Gaullist politician played a leading role in the campaign against the Maastricht Treaty and France's membership of the European Union.

He was "one of the great figures and great voices of our national life," said French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a statement on Thursday.

Séguin "was an exceptional character, he wasn't afraid of anyone, he resisted everything," former UMP Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told Radio Classique.

On the left, former Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin also paid tribute to "a man who entered into the Gaullist tradition at a time when Gaullism had been forgotten by the right".

"He was really a respected man and a servant of the state," Jospin told France Inter radio.

Born in Tunisia, Séguin began his political career as a deputy for neo-Gaullist party the RPR.

He went on to take leadership of the party between 1997 and 1999.

He also held the posts of Minister for Social Affairs and Employment (1986-1989) and President of the National Assembly (1993-1997).

Séguin resigned from politics in 2002 after resisting a tie-up between the RPR and the right-wing UMP party.

He was appointed President of the Cour des Comptes, or Court of Financial Auditors, in 2004.