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Doubts about accusations against ex-IMF chief rock French presidential race


Former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn listens to proceedings in his case in New York state Supreme Court in May.


PARIS -- Dominique Strauss-Kahn's allies are hoping that new doubts about the New York chambermaid who accused of him of sexual assault can help revive his French presidential bid.

New York prosecutors have serious questions about the housekeeper's credibility and will seek a substantial reduction in Strauss-Kahn's bail Friday, a person familiar with the case said.

Many in France welcomed the surprising news.

"Those who know Dominique Strauss-Kahn will not be surprised by this evolution of events," one of Strauss-Kahn's French lawyers and a friend of his for 40 years, Leon Lef Forster, told The Associated Press. "What he was accused of has no relation to his personality. It was something that was not credible."

Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund and a prominent member of France's Socialist Party, was considered a leading potential contender for next year's presidential election before he was charged with attempted rape in May. He denies the allegations.

His arrest upended the French political balance and appeared to dash his ambitions for France's top job. For months, polls had suggested Strauss-Kahn would beat conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy and enjoyed greater popularity than any other Socialist.

French politician Michele Sabban said Friday that the Socialists should put their presidential primary calendar on hold if Strauss-Kahn is exonerated.

"If Dominique Strauss-Kahn is cleared, I ask the Socialist Party to suspend the primary process," Sabban said on i-tele television.


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