Cecilia Sarkozy looks forward to life after divorce

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PARIS, Oct 20 (Reuters) France's former first lady Cecilia Sarkozy said she had devoted 20 sometimes difficult years to her marriage with President Nicolas Sarkozy but was looking forward to a normal life following her divorce.

For her second major interview since the announcement of their separation this week, Cecilia appeared on the front cover of glossy women's magazine Elle, which advanced its publication date from Monday to today.

''I devoted 20 years of my life to Nicolas, 20 years which were not always easy, far from it,'' said Cecilia, who became first lady when her husband won presidential elections earlier this year.

''Twenty years during which I devoted myself for him in the shadows. I didn't complain, I didn't listen to my own needs and I'm not a woman who complains,'' she said. ''We were an ordinary couple in an extraordinary position, under extraordinary pressure and we couldn't resist it.'' She said she had never felt comfortable surrounded by aides and chauffeurs in gilded presidential palaces and wanted a normal life for herself and her children.

''Maybe I'm not like other people but what I miss above all is doing the shopping in the supermarket with my son Louis.'' Cecilia's candour has contrasted with the attitude of her former husband who gave a tart rejoinder to a question on his divorce at a news conference yesterday, saying the French people were less interested than the media in his private life.

The story has dominated the media for days, overshadowing a major transport strike on Thursday and causing some commentators to wonder whether the intense media scrutiny could affect the functioning of the government.

REUTERS SZ AS1711

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