Sarkozy booed at Bongo's funeral: jeers and boos greeted French president Nicholas Sarkozy as he attended the funeral of Gabon's long-time president Omar Bongo. "We don't want you! Leave!" yelled some of those hurling insults at him.

 
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ONLOOKERS JEERED FRENCH President Nicolas Sarkozy at the state funeral for Gabon's President Omar Bongo Ondimba. The issue of succession in the oil-rich nation was the buzz topic behind the scenes and Sarkozy insisted that France was not backing anyone to take over in its former colony. There was polite applause as Sarkozy arrived at the presidential palace in Libreville but this was quickly drowned out by the taunts and boos, shouted by dozens among the few hundred onlookers allowed into the palace courtyard. According to Sky News whose reports we cite here, many hurled insults such as "We don't want you! Leave!" Secutity guards quickly formed a cordon around the French leader as he went into the presidential palace. Bongo, 74, died in a Spanish clinic on 8 June. He had been a symbol of France's privileged ties in the region, but those relations had soured as Bongo's controversial 42-year rule came to an end. A French judge is investigating his purchase of luxury properties in France amid embezzlement allegations. One man in the crowd told the AFP; "You French, you come here to eat Gabon [sic]. All the presidents who have come to this palace have Left again with their pockets full and then you criticise us." The French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner and former president Jacques Chirac were also present in a heavyweight French delegation that reflected the importance Paris still gives to its former colonies in Africa.

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Sarkozy and Chirac received applause later when they laid a wreath together on Bongo's coffin. "People are rather up in arms against the French media ... You know the damage that can be done by the premature announcement of a death and some of the commentaries [there have been]," Sarkozy said of the reception he got. He contended that the boos were "more against the media" than himself. He denied there was any French interference in the selection of a successor. "France has no candidate ... it is not supporting anyone," he said on the sidelines of the service. "The...

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