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De Villepin Will Not Run for French Presidency


French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin says he will not run for the presidency next year.

Mr. de Villepin told reporters at his monthly news conference Wednesday that he prefers to concentrate on running the government.

Mr. de Villepin had been seen as the frontrunner and current President Jacques Chirac's chosen successor, but he has run into a series of crises in recent months, including massive demonstrations in March and April against proposed labor reforms.

Recent voter surveys have shown Mr. de Villepin near the bottom of the polls.

Mr. de Villepin has been in a bitter political rivalry with Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, but hinted at his news conference that he would support a presidential bid by Sarkozy.

He said he would respect a minister's decision to leave the government to campaign for president and would be "thrilled" if that would help his conservative coalition maintain a majority in France's parliament.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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