A little over a week after all criminal charges against him were dropped, Dominique Strauss-Kahn — the former managing director of the IMF at the center of one of the greatest sexual assault scandals in recent memory — and his wife have moved out of their New York City townhouse and have, according to French media sources, bought seats on an Air France flight due to arrive at Paris's main airport at 8:35 a.m. tomorrow. Once back in France, DSK is expected to make a public statement regarding what exactly transpired in that New York Sofitel suite on May 14, the day one of France's leading political lights was effectively snuffed out.
"He owes an explanation," a source close to DSK told the Agence France-Presse news service today, adding that "he has the intention of providing one, and will face that prospect calmly." He further added that DSK wants to "pick up the thread of his life." As for when this public declaration is to take place, the AFP reported another of DSK's confidants saying it would be a "matter of days."
Upon his arrival in Paris, DSK is expected head to the suburb of Sarcelles, where he was mayor for a few years before moving to the national stage, and where a support committee — established soon after his arrest in New York and boasting some 3,500 signatories — is planning a welcome home party. "It has to be a very big event," a local organizer told French newspaper Le Figaro. While in America it might be hard to imagine a politician who's been so thoroughly mashed through the media grinder regaining a toehold in public life, some in France are framing this homecoming celebration as the launching point for a DSK comeback. One local politician in Sarcelles said that "to rebuild his political future, DSK will need to go through Sarcelles" (as he seems to be doing) while another added that "he'll probably want to run in the legislative elections," and that DSK needs a "national destiny."
Some in the Socialist Party, however, are starting to worry DSK might be aiming even higher, with many publicly advising him to be "responsible" and maintain his silence a while longer. The implication here that he might be eyeing the presidential front-runner status he held prior to his arrest. One of DSK's inner circle told the AFP that he "will not make a declaration of support for either of the [Socialist Party's] candidates in the primaries," referring to Martine Aubry and François Hollande, two politicians he has a long history with. Which leaves the question: Does DSK plan to remain mum on the subject and let the French presidential campaign season continue apace, or will he throw himself into the race, like a hefty wrench into a machine that has been whirring along smoothly enough in his absence these past several months?
Update: DSK is back in Paris. His arrival at the airport was greeted by throngs of photographers, reporters, and an apparently botched Verdi serenade.
Strauss-Kahn leaves NYC home, bound for France? [AP]
DSK could arrive in France as early as Sunday... [Libération]
DSK's former town gets ready to celebrate his return [Le Figaro]
For the Socialists' sake, DSK should speak. But not before 1,000 more days! [Marianne 2]