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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 March 2007, 10:53 GMT
Le Pen to run in French election
French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen leaves the Conseil Constitutionnel after handing over his endorsements on Wednesday
Mr Le Pen received more than the 500 endorsements necessary
France's far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen has collected the 500 sponsor signatures he needs to run in April's presidential election.

The leader of the National Front personally submitted 535 signatures from elected officials to the Constitutional Council on Wednesday.

Every candidate must be endorsed by at least 500 such officials to stand, and has until Friday to do so.

Most of the 42,000 elected officials entitled to sign are mayors.

"I have just completed the formalities necessary to stand in the presidential election. I have handed officials of the Constitutional Council 535 signatures," Mr Le Pen said on leaving the council - the body in charge of the election.

He said he had struggled to get the necessary backing, and complained that officials who had promised him their signatures had backed down under political pressure.

Stable in the polls

Last week, the frontrunner for next month's presidential election, centre-right candidate and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, appealed to uncommitted mayors to sign for presidential hopefuls who were struggling to get the 500 endorsements needed.

Recent polls show Mr Sarkozy has a narrow lead over his Socialist rival, Segolene Royal, ahead of the first round of the election on 22 April.

Mr Le Pen is stable in the polls with about 13% of voting intentions in the first-round vote, according to the latest figures.

On Sunday, President Jacques Chirac confirmed in a TV address that he would not be seeking a third term in office.


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