The desire of French President Nicolas Sarkozy to keep his chances for a second presidential term seems to know no bounds. His ambition led him to play with all the cards he has to eliminate his rivals, led by Dominique de Villepin, former Prime Minister and one pole of the French right to which belongs Sarkozy himself.

SARKOZYAfter the weakening of the Left-wing, Sarkozy finds himself just competing with his rivals in the right camp. Thus, he began preparing to destroy their ambitions, and the "Clearstream affair", which the trial has begun monday un the Paris Criminal Court has begun, plays a major role in his plan.

The case dates back to 2004, when Judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke received an anonymous letter referring to the involvement of Sarkozy, interior minister at the time, and other politicians and businessmen in the obtaining bribes on foreign bank accounts in the sale of French frigates to Taiwan in 1991.

The judge then opened an investigation on the incident and quickly found that these documents, speaking of the Luxembourg bank Clearstream, were falsified.

Sarkozy used the case to appear the victim. He accused De Villepin, who was competing with him for the right-wing candidate for president in 2007, of being behind the forged documents in order to weaken his position in the race for the Elysee. Charges have had foundations when investigators found notes belonging to the former coordinator of intelligence services at the Ministry of Defense, General Philippe Rondot,  on the details of secret meetings with de Villepin about the list of fake names.

VILLEPINIn his turn, De Villepin confirmed that he had requested the opening of a parallel investigation on these documents. However, he strongly denied having targeted Sarkozy himself.

Competition between Nicolas Sarkozy and Dominique de Villepin started with the Presidential Election of 1995 when Sarkozy was alongside with Edouard Balladur, while De Villepin was supporting President Jacques Chirac for leading the Gaullist right.

Although they belong to the same camp, the rivalry between Sarkozy and De Villepin has continued throughout the second term of Chirac. The French President preferred De Villepin and has approached him. This rivalry reached its peak in 2006, with the approaching the presidential elections of 2007 and their desire to enter the Elysee.

The appointment of De Villepin as prime minister raised the prospect of his candidacy for president. At the same time, Sarkozy's dream to enter the Elysee became close after being elected President of "Union for a Popular Movement. But De Villepin said that he supports Nicolas Sarkozy to take over the French presidency. An announcement that should improve relations between the two men.

BOTHBut reality shows that De Villepin was not sure of the victory in the elections because of dissatisfaction of the French people towards the policy of his government at the time, especially regarding the draft of "First Employment Contract", intended for who are under 26 years. This draft has given the employer the right to terminate the employment contract during a consolidation period of two years without giving any reason. This law, which raised the young French and led them out into the streets in mass demonstrations, has weakened the electoral position of De Villepin.

In addition, the constants of French political life show that no prime minister has won the French Presidential Election that followed his nomination. For this, De Villepin has chosen to stay away from this risk and to prepare the presidential elections in 2012.

For his part, Sarkozy knows he must prove himself after his first presidential mandate so he can lead France to a second term. A mission that is his concern, specially when polls show that only 46% of French are satisfied with his policies, while 51% are dissatisfied.

It seems that Sarkozy, as Radio France Internationale said, will not leave any chance to blast the political aspirations of De Villepin by suing him for defamation and involvement in the conspiracy case "Clearstream". To achieve its objective, the French President has brought himself in the case as civil plaintiff.

BOTH_CHIRACBut De Villepin's lawyers deny the presence of Nicolas Sarkozy as a civil plaintiff. They said that the presence of the President in a court case goes against the principle of fairness. At the same time, De Villepin accused Sarkozy, in a memorandum submitted to the Council of State, of "violating the right to fair trial".

De Villepin complained in the memory against a decree of President Sarkozy extending the functions of a judge who is handling the case (Henri Pons) for the sole purpose of looking for further information about the case in which he is a civil plaintiff.

When he arrived in court Monday, De Villepin said he is here "because of the dogged determination of one man, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is also president of the French Republic". He said he will come out of this as a free mean and exonerated on behalf of the French nation.

Observers have to wait until October 21, the day of the verdict, to know if Sarkozy will be able to eliminate his main rival in the right camp, or if De Villepin emerge victorious from this battle and begin to prepare for the fight of the presidency in 2012 which will be one of the fiercest elections if the two men raise their candidacy.