PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday fiercely rejected reports that he was offered campaign funding from the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, as new challenges piled up for Mr. Sarkozy a week before France’s presidential runoff.
Mr. Sarkozy also rebuffed leftist critics who compared his campaign rhetoric to that of France’s Nazi collaborators, as ugly wartime memories surfaced in what has been a particularly bitter presidential race.
Polls predict Mr. Sarkozy will lose the May 6 runoff to Socialist Francois Hollande, who promises government-funded jobs programs and higher taxes on the rich - pledges that resonate with a recession-weary electorate.
The campaign funding allegation originates from a year-old claim by Gadhafi’s second son, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, that Libya financed Mr. Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential bid. The allegation came as Mr. Sarkozy was campaigning for international airstrikes against Gadhafi’s forces to stop his crackdown on Libyan rebels.
Although no evidence has emerged that the funding ever took place, French website Mediapart reported Saturday that it had obtained a 2006 Libyan document signed by Gadhafi’s then-intelligence chief, Moussa Koussa, with an offer by the regime to spend $66 million on Mr. Sarkozy’s campaign.
Cameron: No pact with Murdoch over takeover
LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron said he discussed News Corp.’s bid to take full control of a British broadcaster with James Murdoch, but denied promising to support the deal in return for favorable coverage from the media giant’s newspapers.
A judge-led inquiry into media ethics in Britain has raised questions about the government’s links to News Corp., particularly as it deliberated on whether the firm should be authorized to take full control of British Sky Broadcasting, in which it holds a 39 percent stake.
Mr. Cameron told BBC television Sunday that had chatted about the takeover bid with Mr. Murdoch at a Christmas party, but insisted he had not brokered any tit-for-tat deal with him or his media mogul father Rupert Murdoch.
Pirate Party rejects far-right streak
NEUMUENSTER — Germany’s upstart Pirate Party wrapped up a national congress Sunday aimed at distancing the powerful new political force from the far right.
Some 1,300 delegates rallied in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, which goes to the polls on May 6, in a bid to sharpen the outfit’s profile in Germany’s fast-shifting political landscape after weeks of bad press.
Officials for the party, which says it is standing up for more transparency in politics and Internet freedom, scrambled to deny allegations of extreme-right influence and neo-Nazi leanings among some of its membership.
The delegates, predominantly young men, overwhelmingly passed a motion at the two-day gathering condemning any denial of the Holocaust after a rash of remarks by a few Pirates appearing to flirt with historical revisionism.
“The German Pirate Party declares that the Holocaust is an indisputable part of history. To deny it or relativize it under the pretext of freedom of expression violates the principles of our party,” read the motion, which was greeted with a standing ovation.
Soon after, several participants staged a walk-out during a speech by Dietmar Moews, who recently spoke of “international Jewry” - a taboo phrase with an echo of Nazi propaganda.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports