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France says goodbye with a string of tributes to Jacques Chirac

September 30, 2019

PARIS, 30 Sep. (EUROPA PRESS) –

The coffin with the remains of former French president Jacques Chirac now rests in the Paris cemetery Montparnasse, at the end of a morning of tributes both political and citizens who have attended about thirty international leaders and representatives of current and historical politics of France.

Almost 7,000 people paraded through the Invalides palace since Sunday to pay their particular tribute to whoever was president between 1995 and 2007, who died last week at the age of 86. France has paid tribute to Chirac, whose recognition has transcended the conservative family.

The day has begun at 9.30 am, with a family ceremony – in strict privacy – that has preceded a military tribute in Los Invalides in the presence of the current president, Emmanuel Macron, who has opted this time not to give a speech any.

Next, the coffin, covered with the French flag, has been transferred to the church of San Sulpicio, where an official ceremony of an hour and a half chaired by the archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, has been celebrated, which has praised the political vision of Chirac in a applauded speech. He has also had words of support for the widow, Bernadette, absent from the act for health reasons.

The funeral procession has then departed to the cemetery of Montparnasse, where the burial has been carried out. Chirac has been buried in a niche next to that of his daughter Laurence, who died in 2016, but without the presence of authorities and the media at the express wish of the family.

Notre Dame Cathedral, home of state funerals to the last three deceased presidents – Charles de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou and Francois Mitterrand – has also been present indirectly by ringing their bells for the first time since the fire of 15 of April. Since World War II, bells had never been manually operated before.

Macron has served as host for the thirty international leaders who have joined these tributes, among which Russian President Vladimir Putin has stood out. The Russian leader has been the great absentee of the organized lunch at the Elysium, which has been attended by French political personalities such as ex-president François Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.

Of the absences, the most prominent has been that of the National Association leader, Marine Le Pen, who has chosen not to go after the reservations expressed by the Chirac family. The late president lived precisely one of the most remembered moments of his political life in 2002, when he faced Jean Marie Le Pen in the second round of the presidential elections.

Chirac has also been remembered by many Frenchmen for having elevated France's international prominence and for his fierce opposition to the Iraq war in 2003, driven by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom. The sentence that was subsequently imposed for embezzlement barely damaged his public image.