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Sarkozy calls for two-term presidency

PARIS, Nov 25 (AFP) – French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy – known for his sharp political ambitions – has suggested changing rules governing the mandate of a president so it is limited to just two terms, as in the United States.

“Democracies which limit the number of mandates are wise democracies,” he said during a debate Monday with the leader of the Socialist opposition, Francois Hollande, organised by Le Monde newspaper.

A president in France should thus be limited to just two five-year terms, instead of the no-limit rule that currently applies, Sarkozy added.

“When you feel that time is limited, you act faster. When a mandate is unlimited, it’s normal that you want it to go on,” he said. “One needs to leave room for others.”

Observers immediately seized on his words as further evidence that the 48-year-old is keen to throw his hat into the ring in 2007 elections to replace President Jacques Chirac, who turns 71 on Saturday.

Already, Sarkozy has openly joked about taking a shot at the big job. Asked on television recently whether he though about becoming president when he shaved every morning, Sarkozy grinned and said: “Not only when I shave.”

But with polls showing the energetic Sarkozy to be by far the most popular politician in France – above Chirac and all the other ministers – the president has done little to rein him in publicly, though he is said to be peeved in private.

Chirac’s wife Bernadette has also repeatedly told journalists that her husband may contemplate running for a third term next election.

For Chirac’s aides, the interior minister’s comments struck a nerve. “Once again, Nicolas Sarkozy comes across as a man in a rush,” one said on condition of anonymity.


                                                                       Subject: French news