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Confusion in race to succeed Sarkozy

Both candidates fighting to become the next leader of France's main opposition party have claimed victory in a contest that has been marred by allegations of voting irregularities.

Former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon is hoping to become the next leader of the UMP party. Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/PA Archive

Jean-Francois Cope and former prime minister Francois Fillon both claimed victory within thirty minutes of one another last night.

Supporters of Cope said he was 1,000 votes ahead, while Fillon said he had a lead of more than 200 votes. Both camps have made accusations of vote fraud.

The contest to replace Nicolas Sarkozy as leader of the UMP party will now go to an internal voting commission who will announce the official results.

French police raid Sarkozy office

Journalists stand in front of the entrance of a building housing the new offices of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy Credit: Reuters

Police raided the home and offices of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy today as part of a judicial inquiry into financial relations between his political camp and the richest woman in France, L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

Sarkozy's lawyer, Thierry Herzog, said the raids, a day after his client had left for Canada on holiday would show nothing and that he had already supplied information to investigators that debunked suspicions of secret meetings with Bettencourt.


Francois Hollande supporters rally in Toulouse

Rally in Toulouse Credit: Mark Nelson/ITV News

Supporters of the French presidential candidate Francois Hollande gathered at a rally in Toulouse in southern France today.

The Socialist party leader is ahead of Nicolas Sarkozy in opinion polls by six to 10 points. Both leaders are battling for votes ahead of Sunday's decisive runoff election.


Paris celebrates presidential election rally

French President and conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy for 2012 re-election Credit: AP Photo/Philippe Wojazer, Pool

French President and conservative candidate for re-election delivered a speech during a campaign rally in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The conservative Sarkozy is hoping to win over the more than 6 million voters who supported far right leader Marine Le Pen in the first round of France's presidential elections April 22.

National Front rally in Paris

National Front rally outside the Palais Garnier Opera House Credit: Mark Nelson/ITV News

Supporters of France's far-right National Front party are celebrating their traditional "Joan of Arc Day" rally in Paris. The party leader Marine Le Pen addressed the crowd telling supporters to make up their own minds about who to vote for in the May 6th election run off.

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