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François Fillon announces his candidacy for president of UMP

Reuters/Benoit Tessier

François Fillon announced on Saturday that he will run as a candidate for the presidency of the centre-right UMP party. The battle has thus begun to find a new leader of the party, two months after the departure of former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

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Fillon made his candidacy official, after leaving a message on his Twitter account reading: "It is my job to get people of the right and the centre together… I am a candidate for the presidency of the UMP!”

In an interview out Sunday in Journal de Dimanche, he declared once again his candidacy under the auspices of bringing people together and opposing the current “illogical” political landscape.

Fillon assured that his candidacy was in no way an attempt to fight against any specific person, in reference to suggestions that a battle for leadership within the UMP party is currently taking place.

Yet Fillon’s announcement inevitably begs the question of whether and when Jean-François Copé, current secretary of the UMP party, will officially announce his candidacy.

Ever since Nicolas Sarkozy left the position in May, leadership of the party has been up for grabs.

Fillon caused a rift in mid-May, following Sarkozy’s departure, by saying that there was now no longer a “natural leader” of the UMP party.

Copé avoided getting involved in any confrontation following Fillon’s comments, instead imploring the party to focus its attention on preparing for the parliamentary elections.

Former foreign affairs minister, Alain Juppé, expressed his apprehension on Friday about any further mudslinging within the party.

“I find this competition both useless and dangerous,” he said, adding that he regretted the fact that the 2017 presidential campaign was already on everyone’s minds.

Christian Jacob, the president of the UMP group at the National Assembly, told the AFP news agency that the priority of the UMP should be organising a strong opposition, not focusing on candidates for the party presidency. He called Fillon's announcement a "non-event."
 

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