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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sarkozy and His Wife Separating

PARIS -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Cecilia, are separating, the president's office said in a terse statement Thursday, ending rampant speculation about the state of their 11-year marriage.

"Cecilia and Nicolas Sarkozy have announced their separation by mutual consent. They will not be making any comment," the statement said, giving no further information.

The French media reported earlier this week that the pair secretly saw a judge Monday to formalize their split, but some experts have said Sarkozy can not legally get divorced because as president he has immunity from all judicial actions.

It is the first time in modern French history that a serving president has separated from his wife, and Sarkozy's reaction to the split will come under intense scrutiny.

Cecilia played a crucial role in his rise to power, serving as an adviser during his previous stints as interior and finance minister. Sarkozy vaunted their relationship, telling aides that she was "the only nonnegotiable part" of his career.

Cecilia played no public part in her husband's election campaign this year, did not vote for him in the second round and only appeared fleetingly alongside him at three public engagements since his May victory -- the last time in July.

Rumors of the split have filled France's often prudish media in recent weeks and the story dominated Thursday's press.