Page last updated at 22:34 GMT, Thursday, 22 October 2009 23:34 UK

Sarkozy son pulls out of job bid

Jean Sarkozy on French TV, 22 October 2009
Jean Sarkozy is a councillor in the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly

The 23-year-old son of French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he is withdrawing from a bid to run the country's top business district.

The bid by Jean Sarkozy, who is yet to complete his undergraduate law studies, had triggered accusations of nepotism.

He said he would still seek a place on the board of Epad, which runs La Defense business district in Paris.

He also said he had been subjected to a campaign of "manipulation and disinformation" against him.

"I do not want a victory stained by doubt," he said in an interview on French TV.

On Thursday he said that despite what he called the campaign against him, he would remain in public life.

"I have a vocation for politics, a passion for politics," he said.

'Prince Jean'

Jean Sarkozy is currently a councillor for the wealthy Parisian district of Neuilly, where his father built his political career.

Protest against Jean Sarkozy's bid to head La Defense business district, 22 October 2009
Protesters waved bananas at La Defense on Thursday

He also heads the right-wing majority regional council of Hauts-de-Seine.

The second son from President Sarkozy's first marriage, he has been labelled by the French press as "Prince Jean".

Critics have said he is not qualified to lead Epad.

Thousands of people signed an online petition calling on him to withdraw his candidacy, a bid that led some commentators to say that France risked becoming a banana republic.

On Thursday, demonstrators gathered at La Defense waving bananas.

Several major corporations and banks have their headquarters at La Defense, a modern development with a cluster of skyscrapers.

Epad's outgoing chairman, 65-year-old Patrick Devedjian, is stepping down because he has reached the mandatory retirement age.

Earlier this week President Sarkozy said his son had been "thrown to the wolves" over his bid to run Epad.

The row began as the president faced another controversy over a book by Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand that describes paying for sex with young men in Thailand.

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