Huge majority hands Sarkozy UMP leadership

26th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 25 (AFP) - French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has been elected head of the ruling UMP party by an overwhelming majority, according to a letter of congratulations from his predecessor, obtained by AFP on Thursday.

PARIS, Nov 25 (AFP) - French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has been elected head of the ruling UMP party by an overwhelming majority, according to a letter of congratulations from his predecessor, obtained by AFP on Thursday.  

Voting for a new party president among the Union for a Popular Movement's 128,000 members ended Sunday with two other candidates in the running.  

There had been no question that Sarkozy, the rising star of the centre-right, would emerge as winner, but the results have yet not been officially announced.  

The handwritten letter from outgoing UMP leader Alain Juppe, congratulating Sarkozy for winning the support of a "very large majority", was circulated by the finance minister's entourage, with the consent of its author.  

Juppe, a confidant of French President Jacques Chirac, stepped down after he was found guilty of party funding fraud and barred from holding public office for 10 years in January.  

The 49-year-old finance minister is to be installed on Sunday as UMP president, at a televised gathering in presence of some 20,000 supporters.  

The move - which will be followed automatically by Sarkozy's resignation from the cabinet - is seen as a clear step towards a bid for the presidency in 2007 and opens up the prospect of open conflict with his arch-rival Chirac.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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