Chirac to move into Hariri family apartment

PARIS Wed Apr 25, 2007 1:56pm BST

View of the building April 24, 2007 where outgoing France's president Jacques Chirac will move in the 7th district in Paris when he quits the Elysee Palace next month. For his life after politics, president Chirac's wife had found a two-storey, 180-square-metre apartment on the left bank of the river Seine opposite the Louvre museum. REUTERS/ Charles Platiau

View of the building April 24, 2007 where outgoing France's president Jacques Chirac will move in the 7th district in Paris when he quits the Elysee Palace next month. For his life after politics, president Chirac's wife had found a two-storey, 180-square-metre apartment on the left bank of the river Seine opposite the Louvre museum.

Credit: Reuters/ Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - The apartment that French President Jacques Chirac will move into when he leaves office next month belongs to the family of assassinated Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, a newspaper said on Wednesday.

Hariri was one of Chirac's closest friends and the French leader made it a priority to help Lebanon, a former French protectorate, following Hariri's 2005 murder.

Chirac, 74, will step down after 12 years in office shortly after the deciding round of the presidential election on May 6.

He and his wife Bernadette will move into the two-storey, 180-square-metre apartment on the left bank of the river Seine opposite the Louvre museum.

Le Figaro daily said the apartment was owned by one of Hariri's sons. The paper said the Chiracs would only be staying there temporarily while they found somewhere else to live.

"Given their commitments, Mr. and Mrs. Chirac have not yet had the time to find their own place to live. They will very temporarily live in an apartment ... which is being lent to them by Ayman Hariri, while they find a permanent home," a source in Chirac's office told the newspaper.

Furniture movers and officials have begun transferring papers, art objects and cases of wine into the building and paparazzi photographers have taken up position on a bridge opposite.

Chirac leaves office with assets worth 1.4 million euros (953,000 pounds), including a 10-room manor house in the Correze region in central France, artwork, bank accounts and a 1984 Peugeot 205 car.

He will have an office paid for by the state not far from his new home near the National Assembly and a separate headquarters for a cultural and environmental foundation that he intends to create.