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France

Villepin announces departure from Sarkozy party over "growing gap"

Getty Images/Francois G. Durand

Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said on Wednesday that he will not renew his membership in the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party due to "growing gap" between the party's ideas and the realities facing France.

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The former prime minister originally announced his intention to not renew his UMP membership on Facebook on Tuesday, which he confirmed Wednesday at the Salon de l'agriculture.

A video explaining his reasons appeared Wednesday on the website of the United Republic party (UR), or République solidaire, which Villepin founded last June.

He says that his and the UMP's respective visions of the country had "grown too far apart", citing a deteriorting quality of French diplomacy on the international stage and growing too far from "Gaullist" values of social justice as reasons for his departure.

Asked why he did not leave the UMP when the UR was founded, he said, "if I renewed my membership in 2010, it was because I did not want to dispair, nor to discourage those in the UMP who held similar political ideals."

He also said the UR was "absolutely independent of the UMP".

Villepin was a UMP member since its creation in 2002, serving as Prime Minister under Jacques Chirac from 2005 to 2007.

One of the most vocal right-wing opponents of President Nicolas Sarkozy, Villepin is considered as a potential candidate for President of France in 2012.

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