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Villepin creates party to challenge Sarkozy

Dominique de Villepin announcing launch of new party, 25/03/10
Mr de Villepin is known as a poet, diplomat and author

Dominique de Villepin, arch-rival of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is launching a new party amid speculation that he will run for the presidency.

He did not give his party a name, or formally announce a presidential run.

But he said it would be "a free and independent movement" and criticised the "politics practised today".

The former prime minister was recently acquitted of plotting to smear Mr Sarkozy when the two men served in the government of President Jacques Chirac.

Mr de Villepin, known as an elegant diplomat, poet, and author of books on Napoleon, was once a favourite to succeed Mr Chirac as the centre-right UMP party's candidate for president.

But he developed an intense rivalry with Mr Sarkozy - then his interior minister - who went on to gain the nomination.

Shake-up

He said: "I have decided to create a political movement, a free and independent movement, open to everyone, which is above divisions and can unite all good intentions."

He said he was looking to shake up the political scene "over the next two years," describing himself as "uneasy with the politics practised today by the majority".

He criticised the distribution of wealth in France today, saying: "We cannot accept to live in a country where inequality and injustice reach such a level. We cannot delay our response."

The new party is to be officially launched on 19 June.

Some commentators said Mr de Villepin would pose a risk for Mr Sarkozy in the 2012 presidential election by threatening to split the right-wing vote.

But others questioned whether he had the support in parliament to mount a serious challenge.



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
China Post Ex-French PM forms new party to rival UMP - 12 hrs ago
Al Jazeera Sarkozy rival mounts vote challenge - 22 hrs ago
AFP via Yahoo! Sarkozy's bitterest enemy launches rival party - 24 hrs ago
TheStar.com.my Former PM Villepin challenges Sarkozy with new party - 27 hrs ago
Washington PostFormer French PM challenges Sarkozy with new party - 28 hrs ago
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