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Le Pen 'temporarily steps down' as National Front leader

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is temporarily stepping down as head of her National Front party, she has announced.

The move appears to be an attempt to appeal to a wider range of potential voters ahead of the May 7 run-off between herself and Emmanuel Macron, the independent centrist who came first in Sunday's first round.

"Tonight, I am no longer the president of the National Front. I am the presidential candidate," Ms Le Pen said.

She has said in the past that she is not a candidate of her party, and made that point when she rolled out her platform in February, saying the measures she was espousing were not her party's, but her own.

She has worked to bring in voters from the left and right for several years, cleaning up her party's racist, anti-Semitic image to do so.

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Paris attack looms over French presidential elections

  • Video report by ITV News Europe Correspondent James Mates

The aftershocks of the shooting central Paris reverberated around France as the country prepares to go to the polls in just two days.

Candidates declared campaigning at an end for the upcoming presidential election after the attack on Thursday night.

But National Front candidate Marine Le Pen sought to make political capital of the shooting in a country on high alert after numerous terrorist attacks.

She laid the blame on the government's weakness in the face of Islamic extremists, earning a strict rebuke from Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

First-round voting is set to begin on Sunday morning - and no opinion polls showing what impact, if any, the shooting had will be published before then.

Paris killer 'was a loner with few interests'

Karim Cheurfi's former lawyer said the killer was 'extremely isolated'. Credit: AP

The Paris gunman Karim Cheurfi was a loner with few interests in life, his former lawyer has said.

Jean-Laurent Panier described Cheurfi as an "extremely isolated" individual who passed near unnoticed while in detention in comments to BFM-TV.

Despite reports that the gunman may have been inspired by radical Islamist terrorists, Mr Panier said his client never discussed religion.

"His only conversations were about how to fill his daily life with video games," he said.

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