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Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn leaves his apartment, hours after being questioned by police, in Paris September 12, 2011.
Credit: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes
Sun Sep 18, 2011 8:56am EDT
PARIS (Reuters) - Dominique Strauss-Kahn will speak to his nation in a TV interview on Sunday for the first time since a New York sex assault case ended his IMF career and wrecked his chances of running in France's 2012 presidential election.
Strauss-Kahn -- back in France since September 4, after a New York prosecutor dropped attempted rape charges against him -- will give a live interview on TF1's primetime 8 p.m. (2 p.m. EDT) news show with millions of viewers hoping to hear his account of his nine-minute encounter with a Sofitel hotel maid.
TF1 may go easy on Strauss-Kahn given the interviewer, Claire Chazal, is a friend of his wife, Anne Sinclair, herself a former high-profile TV journalist.
His lawyers have said that the encounter that triggered Strauss-Kahn's mid-May arrest was sexual but consensual.
The former IMF chief is expected to allude to the case, but also seek to shift the focus to the global economic crisis as he seeks to restore his credibility as politician.
"I expect he will touch on all the issues but without descending into inappropriate voyeurism," Jean-Marie Le Guen, a leftwing deputy and Strauss-Kahn ally, told Le Parisien daily. "The French clearly want an explanation but not an outpouring."
Strauss-Kahn, also a former French finance minister, had been seen as the opposition Socialist Party's best chance of winning the 2012 election until his arrest, but the left has had to move on and is holding its primary selection contest without him.
An Ifop opinion poll published in Sunday's Journal du Dimanche newspaper found that 53 percent of those surveyed want Strauss-Kahn to announce that he is retiring from politics.
While his allies have cheered the dropping of the assault case, due to doubts over the maid's credibility, the Socialists seem lukewarm on the idea of Strauss-Kahn taking a role in their election campaign, given the damage to his image from the scandal and subsequent muck-raking over his private life.
Strauss-Kahn still faces a civil case in New York over the incident at the Times Square Sofitel, and was questioned by French police this month over a separate sexual assault accusation dating back to 2003 by a woman 30 years his junior [ID:nLDE78300H].
Other recent polls have found that two-thirds of the French public want Strauss-Kahn to stay out of the election campaign and do not want him to have a government post if the left unseats the ruling UMP conservative party in the April election.
Sunday's Ifop poll found that a third of respondents hope Strauss-Kahn will explain on Sunday exactly what happened with the hotel maid, although the Journal du Dimanche quoted a close aide of Strauss-Kahn's as saying that was unlikely.
"Dominique will answer all the questions put to him," the person was quoted as saying. "What's certain is that he will not describe what happened in the Times Square Sofitel suite 2806."
(Reporting By Catherine Bremer; Additional reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Editing by Rosalind Russell)
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