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Sarkozy intervenes in UMP leadership

The ex-president has reportedly been ‘phoning everyone’ seeking solutions to conflict between UMP rivals Copé and Fillon

FORMER president Nicolas Sarkozy has become embroiled in French politics again, reportedly making behind-the-scenes interventions in the UMP leadership debacle.

He is expected to try to resolve the crisis in the right-wing Opposition party after a failed attempt at mediation by the former prime minister and mayor of Bordeaux Alain Juppé. Juppé said “conditions for a mediation were not met” during talks he held with the rivals for the leadership, Sarkozy’s prime minister François Fillon and UMP general secretary Jean-François Copé.

Chaos ensued after Copé’s victory was announced at the elections on December 18. It emerged later that votes from three overseas territories had not been counted and Fillon says this would have enabled him to win. Fillon is considering court action and was reported by BMF TV this morning to be planning to send bailiffs to party headquarters to seize election result material.

Juppé could not reach agreement on the conditions with the UMP appeal body la Commission des Recours, which is examining the allegations of miscounted votes, as well as counter accusations by the Copé camp about alleged irregularities in voting in some parts of mainland France. The commission is said to consist mainly of Copé supporters and may announce conclusions today.

Questioned on RTL radio this morning, Juppé said it would be “up to him” [Sarkozy] to decide whether or not he wants to intervene, but “it seems to be clear he’s the only one who today has sufficient authority to suggest a way out of this, which I personally can’t see.”

However, former interior minister Claude Guéant said on Europe 1 he “doubted Sarkozy will plunge into the fray because he has a different position from that of a party organiser today”. In theory Sarkozy is in retirement from front-line politics, having found a new niche doing talks around the world.

Nonetheless the former president is said to have been “phoning everyone” over the weekend, according to Le Monde.

Sarkozy gave a speech in Shanghai yesterday and returned to Paris last night. He is expected to lunch with Fillon and is expected to try to discourage Fillon from pursuing court action.

Photo: א Aleph Wikimedia Commons

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