President Sarkozy’s resolve to remain steadfast in Afghanistan was tested yesterday as a poll indicated that a majority of French voters want him to pull troops out after the deaths this week of ten soldiers in a Taleban ambush.
The President inspected the ten coffins and spoke to survivors at a ceremony of tribute on Thursday.
The findings of Le Parisien poll came amid growing debate over France’s role in the Nato force in Afghanistan, with Mr Sarkozy being accused of entrenching his country in an unwinnable conflict.
The loss of the servicemen, in what has been described as the French Army’s worst day for a quarter of a century, has brought the issue to the centre of public attention almost for the first time.
The poll found that 55 per cent of those surveyed wanted Mr Sarkozy to bring French forces home, with 36 per cent in favour of keeping them in Afghanistan.
Mr Sarkozy stirred controversy in April when he dispatched an extra 700 troops to bring France’s contingent to 2,600.
There was some comfort for the President, withthe poll finding that 48 per cent trusted him to handle the crisis compared with 46 per cent who did not.
August 23, 2008
Adam Sage in Paris
Source: The Times