French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has announced he is formally endorsing the presidential bid of his longtime rival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.
The interior minister is the leader of the conservative ruling party, the Union for a Popular Movement.
Monday's endorsement of Sarkozy by the prime minister comes a day after President Jacques Chirac announced his retirement.
Mr. Chirac has not endorsed a candidate for next month's election.
In addition to Sarkozy, the two other main candidates vying to succeed Mr. Chirac are Socialist leader Segolene Royal and centrist leader Francois Bayrou.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, and AP .