The Global Fund to Fight AIDS confirmed on Tuesday that its head Michel Kazatchkine will quit but denied media allegations that it was connected to his links with French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
Kazatchkine, a French clinician and health advocate, said in a statement he had decided to step down as executive director in March following the organisation's decision to appoint a general manager.
But the chairman of the fund's board denied a report by France's Liberation newspaper Tuesday that his decision was linked to allegations of possible irregularities involving the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
"I categorically deny the information (published on Liberation's website) saying Michel Kazatchkine reportedly resigned because of the questioning of his links with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy," Simon Bland said in a statement.
"What was written was false and without foundation and we are demanding the retraction of the article," he said in a statement to AFP.
The fund had issued a statement on January 6 describing an article in French weekly Marianne which suggested the aids organisation had benefitted charities linked to Bruni-Sarkozy as "inaccurate and misleading".
Kazatchkine, who was appointed executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2007, said he was "immensely proud" of what the fund had achieved since it was set up in 2001.
The Global Fund is the world's biggest single source of funding to tackle three of the world's greatest killer diseases, with a multi-billion dollar budget drawn from more than 100 countries and private donors.