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French PM quits to enter presidential race

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is set to resign on Tuesday to free himself to do battle for the Socialist nomination in next year’s presidential election, AFP reports.

Announcing his candidacy on Monday France’s prime minister of the past two-and-a-half years said he would step down to try to rally the fractured left ahead of a primary in January.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve are among those tipped to succeed him as premier for the six months until the next legislative elections.

In a combative speech, 54-year-old Valls vowed to take the fight to the conservative opposition and the far-right National Front, who are both leading the Socialists in election polls.

His announcement came four days after President Francois Hollande announced he would bow out after a single term, paving the way for Valls to try to become the left’s new standard bearer.

“My candidacy is one of reconciliation,” Valls, seen as a divisive figure, said in a speech from his political base in the tough Paris suburb of Evry.

He warned of the risk of far-right leader Marine Le Pen pulling off a repeat of France’s 2002 electoral upset when her father Jean-Marie Le Pen edged the Socialist candidate for a place in the presidential runoff.

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