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Bayrou Refuses to Endorse Either French Presidential Candidate


French centrist politician Francois Bayrou, who came in third in Sunday's first round of the country's presidential elections, has refused to endorse either of the two candidates in the May 6 run-off.

Bayrou told a Paris news conference he believes both center-right candidate Nicolas Sarkozy and his Socialist rival, Sagolene Royal, have flawed policies that are likely to worsen the country's problems. But he says he thinks the 18 percent of voters who supported him in the first round of balloting should be free to make their own choice.

Sarkozy, who won more than 31 percent of the vote, hopes to win the backing of Bayrou supporters, but has already indicated he will not seek a direct alliance with the centrist.

Royal, who garnered close to 26 percent of the vote, said she is available for a dialogue with Bayrou.

The Sunday election drew a near-record voter turnout of almost 85 percent. Analysts say that indicates voters' desire for change as French citizens vote on a successor for outgoing President Jacques Chirac.

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