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.