Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced he will be stepping down as leader of the Les Republicains party. The move is seen as a precursor to running in presidential election primaries later in the year.
Nicolas Sarkozy said he would be quitting his role as head of France's Les Republicains party, setting up a potential bid to become head of state for a second time. Sarkozy told members of his party at a gathering on June 2 that this was his last occasion they would be seeing him as party leader.
"This national council will be my last one as president of Les Republicains," he told a party meeting, calling for a fair contest and no acrimony between the potential nominees.
Sarkozy would not be able to run in the presidential primaries if he remained head of the party.
A tight race
Supporters of Les Republicains (and other allied parties) will vote in November to choose a candidate for the 2017 French presidential election. Sarkozy is expected to be up against 13 others in his party who have already declared their candidacies.
Sarkozy's centre-right rival Alain Juppe has outpaced the former president in a number of opinion polls so far; however, a recent survey showed that the man who was president between 2007 and 2012 could be making a comeback among party supporters.
The winner will be up against the far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen and a yet-to-be-announced Socialist candidate, which is likely to be incumbent French President Francois Hollande.
ss/bw (AP, Reuters)