Farmer-activist, Jose Bove, plans presidential bid

22nd January 2007, Comments 0 comments

MONTREUIL, France, Jan 21, 2007 (AFP) - France's iconic farmer-activist Jose Bove burst into the campaign for April's presidential election Sunday with the announcement that he plans to stand as a candidate for the anti-liberal far left.

MONTREUIL, France, Jan 21, 2007 (AFP) - France's iconic farmer-activist Jose Bove burst into the campaign for April's presidential election Sunday with the announcement that he plans to stand as a candidate for the anti-liberal far left.

"I will officially announce my candidacy on February 1," the 53-year-old anti-globalisation campaigner and champion of civil disobedience told reporters at a meeting of 700 activists in the eastern Paris suburbs.

"We are about resistance to the world of liberal economics, to the commoditisation of the planet," he said. "We're making the bet that we can bring resistance to power."

"We have already set things in motion, we are already building this campaign," Bove said, adding that he had asked his supporters to hunt down the sponsorship of 500 elected officials, required of all presidential candidates.

Standard-bearer of the French anti-globalisation movement, Bove enjoys widespread support at home, where his high-profile campaign for a moratorium on genetically-modified (GM) crops makes regular headlines.

His activism has already earned him three spells in prison, for destroying a half-built McDonald's outlet in his hometown of Millau in southern France in 1999, and in 2001 and 2003 for ripping up GM crops.

Bove said he decided to stand after a petition in support of his candidacy gathered more than 25,000 signatures, but may yet back down if he fails to attract enough "popular backing". His supporters are to meet on a weekly basis to decide "whether we should carry on or not".

Bove is one of several figures vying to be a unity candidate for the French far left, whose different strands were pulled together in a common campaign against the EU's draft constitution, which French voters rejected in 2005.

This week he urged the leaders of the Communist Party and the Communist Revolutionary League (LCR), who are both standing for election after failing to agree on a joint bid, to rally behind him.

But the Communist Party -- who want their leader Marie-George Buffet as unity candidate -- issued a statement Sunday warning that Bove's candidacy would only create "division and confusion".

Talks with the LCR have also foundered over its refusal to consider joining a coalition with the mainstream Socialist Party, whose candidate Segolene Royal is neck-and-neck with the centre-right Nicolas Sarkozy to win the presidency.

The moustachioed campaigner would become the 45th declared candidate in the French presidential race -- although only a fraction are expected to secure the 500 signatures to be allowed to run.

Bove shot to global fame in 1999 following the McDonald's incident, but his career as a activist runs back three decades.

Born to a middle class family in the southwestern French city of Bordeaux, Bove -- like many students of his generation -- turned his back on city life in search of a simpler life in the countryside near Millau.

With his wife Alice, he set up there as a sheep farmer and Roquefort cheese producer, and helped lead a successful campaign to defend the starkly beautiful Larzac plateau against plans to expand a military camp there.

In 1987 he founded the radical Small Farmers Confederation to champion the cause of small producers against the interests of big business and agricultural barons -- launching a 20-year crusade with fast-food, and now GM crops, as its prime targets.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

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