Former French president Chirac in hospital with suspected gout

France's former President Jacques Chirac, who has been in poor health for several years, was hospitalised on Monday, Feb 17, 2014, near Paris for a suspected flare of gout, sources close to the former French president said.-- FILE PHOTO: AFP
France's former President Jacques Chirac, who has been in poor health for several years, was hospitalised on Monday, Feb 17, 2014, near Paris for a suspected flare of gout, sources close to the former French president said.-- FILE PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Mr Jacques Chirac, who has been in poor health for several years, was hospitalised on Monday, Feb 17, 2014, near Paris for a suspected flare of gout, sources close to the former French president said.

An AFP reporter saw an ambulance and police motorbikes in front of the 81-year-old veteran politician's home at 8pm (7pm GMT).

Mr Chirac was later checked into the American Hospital of Paris in the plush suburb of Neuilly, a government source told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity.

A member of Mr Chirac's inner circle said there was no cause for alarm. "There is absolutely no vital emergency. We suspect an acute episode of gout." He was expected to check out of the hospital the same day.

Mr Chirac, who suffered a stroke in 2005, underwent successful kidney surgery in December.

He was France's president from 1995 to 2007 and twice previously served as prime minister. He is considered one of the most popular politicians in recent French history.

Mr Chirac's wife Bernadette said in January she thought her husband would probably never speak in public again because he experienced frequent memory loss.

She said he received many visitors and read books to keep his mind sharp, and added that she did not believe the former president suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

"Honestly, I don't think so. I certainly hope this ordeal will not be forced on us... He doesn't really show the symptoms although his memory is sometimes failing," she said.

The last time Mr Chirac appeared in public was in November when he attended the ceremony for the award his foundation gave to Mr Denis Mukwege, who set up a clinic for rape victims in his native Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mr Chirac is perhaps best known on the international stage for infuriating the United States by opposing the 2003 war in Iraq.

His appeal to the French public was undiminished by a conviction for embezzlement and misuse of public funds during his terms as mayor of Paris.

A Paris court ruled in December 2011 that he had colluded in the creation of 28 fake jobs for party workers and sentenced him to a two-year suspended prison term.

By then, Mr Chirac was already suffering from degenerative neurological disorder and, with the agreement of prosecutors, he was spared the humiliation of appearing in court.

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