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France’s Sarkozy says ‘shameful’ manipulations won’t deter presidential bid

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday dismissed “shameful” attempts to prevent him for running for the 2017 presidency after the state prosecutor said he should stand trial over 2012 election funding irregularities.

Sarkozy is accused of “knowingly underestimating” elements of his campaign financing, and the prosecutor’s office recommended on Monday he stand trial with 13 others in the so-called Bygmalion Affair, involving spending overruns and allegedly illegal financing.

“No controversy, no political manoeuvrings, no manipulations as shameful as they may be, will deter me one centimetre from my absolute desire to build a strong, frank and discernible alternative for the French people,” he told a campaign rally.

The timing is tricky for Sarkozy in the run-up to a candidacy contest pitting himself against several conservative rivals for the presidential ticket of the Les Republicains party and its allies on the centre-right.

By the time that primary contest takes place in late November, the independent magistrate who placed Sarkozy under formal investigation last February is expected to have announced whether he will order a trial.
According to an Ifop-Fiducial poll published on Tuesday sampling more than 7,600 people, Sarkozy’s main rival in the primary, Alain Juppe, would defeat him in a second-round run-off by 54 percent to 46 percent.

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