Government minister backs Bayrou for president

16th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 16, 2007 (AFP) - Azouz Begag, France's Minister for Equal Opportunities, said Friday that he is supporting the centrist candidate Francois Bayrou at next month's presidential election.

PARIS, March 16, 2007 (AFP) - Azouz Begag, France's Minister for Equal Opportunities, said Friday that he is supporting the centrist candidate Francois Bayrou at next month's presidential election.

"He is the only candidate that I can support. We shall work out how I express this support in the coming days," Begag said in a radio interview.

"Democracy is not the tyranny of bipolarisation. The French want to try something different. We need an encounter of the third kind, and the third kind of Francois Bayrou," he said.

Begag, 50, is known to have fallen out with Nicolas Sarkozy, Interior Minister and candidate for the ruling centre-right, because of his policies on immigration.

The minister, who is of Algerian parents, said Sarkozy's recent call for a "ministry of immigration and national identity" was "indecent".

"It's a hook to catch the lost sheep of the National Front and bring them back to the republican fold. It is offensive to identity immigration with the risk of changing French identity," he said.

Bayrou, who leads the small Union for French Democracy (UDF) party, has surged in the polls in recent weeks.

A BVA survey on Friday put him at 21 percent of the first-round vote on April 22, behind Sarkozy on 29 percent and the socialist Segolene Royal on 23 percent.

The decisive second round between the two leading contenders is on May 6.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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