French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been forced to take a shelter in a local bar in Bayonne, being chased with hundreds of angry protesters during his campaign visit to the France’s Basque country.
Reportedly, the drama lasted for about an hour – the protesters were throwing eggs at the bar surrounded by riot police forces, while Sarkozy has been chatting with locals in the café. Eventually, he left the bar escorted by the police and protected by an umbrella.
Shaken by the incident, Sarkozy said the protesters were “hooligans” and denounced "the violence of a minority and their unacceptable behavior".
"Here, we're in France, on the territory of the French republic, and the president of the republic will go everywhere. And if that doesn't please a minority of troublemakers, too bad for them.”
Protesters, who are supporters of Sarkozy’s rival Socialist candidate, François Hollande, showered the French president with campaign leaflets calling for greater Basque autonomy.
"If this is the concept of democracy, that the socialists associate with Basque separatists, if this is it, the country they have in mind, it doesn't make you want to get there," Sarkozy said.
Meanwhile, a source from Hollande’s campaign team told the AFP the socialist front-runner condemned the violence and no member of their party was involved in the Bayonne incident.
Sarkozy declared his candidacy on for the re-election on Feb. 15. The latest pools show he is moving closer to Socialist election frontrunner Francois Hollande, while the far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Francois Bayrou are way behind the two main rivals.