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Hard-left candidate Mélenchon still campaigns as mark of respect for Jewish school shooting victims

Reuters/Benoit Tessier

France's hard-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon has refused to join the presidential election frontrunners, President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Socialist rival François Hollande, and put his campaign on hold out of respect for the Jewish victims of a school shooting. 

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"Continuing the campaign is an act of moral, intellectual and emotional resistance," said the firebrand leader of the Left Front, a coalition of left-wing parties, including the Communists. "We must not allow our vigorous democracy to be put on hold by an odious and degenerate murderer."

Centrist candidate François Bayrou has also decided to continue campaigning arguing the shooting were the fault of politicians who divide society by putting up divisions.

“There’s a degree of violence and stigmitisation in French society that’s growing, it’s unacceptable,” he said in a thinly-veiled swipe at Sarkozy who has veered to the right during the campaign vowing to increase controls on immigration.

Sarkozy has said he will suspend his re-election campaign until at least Wednesday out of respect for the three children and a teacher shot dead at a Jewish school on Monday in Toulouse.

With less than a month to go before the polls, Sarkozy has put aside his normally combative campaign manner to adopt the stance of a unifying head of state at a time of national tragedy.

But foreign minister, Alain Juppé, hit back at Bayrou’s comments accusing him of seeking to capitalise on the murders.

"What is good in the French political class is that, until now, it has reacted with dignity in a spirit of national unity. So let's not add the disgusting to the horrific," he said on public television.

 

 

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