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French National Front Has Third Leader in One Week

  • VOA News

FILE - From left, Marine Le Pen, Jean-Francois Jalkh and Florian Philippot of the National Front party arrive at the Elysee Palace for a meeting with French President Francois Hollande in Paris, May 16, 2014.

France's far-right National Front, the party of presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, has replaced its leader for the second time in three days.

Jean-Francois Jalkh, who was named interim president of the party on Tuesday after Le Pen stepped down, was forced to vacate the office in response to allegations he praised a Holocaust denier. He also expressed doubts about the reality of Nazi gas chambers, which killed millions of Jews during World War II.

Jalkh is being replaced by Steeve Briois. Each has served as one of the party's five vice presidents.

Another party vice president, Louis Aliot — Marine Le Pen's partner — told reporters that Briois would take over the interim leadership and “there'll be no more talk about it."

It is a blow to the campaign of Le Pen, who had a better-than-expected showing in French elections on Sunday and faces a runoff with centrist rival Emmanuel Macron on May 7.

Le Pen raised controversy earlier in the campaign by saying France was not responsible for the roundup and demise of thousands of Parisian Jews during World War II.

Ironically, she expelled her father, party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, from the party in 2015 because he referred to the Holocaust as a “detail of history.”

Macron is expected to win the May 7 runoff, but experts say an unexpected voter turnout could rock the results to one side or the other.

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