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The Latest: French PM praises Hollande for stepping aside

Associated Press Associated Press 1 day ago
Leftist contender for the Socialist primary election Arnaud Montebourg smiles after his speech to officially launch his primary campaign for France's presidential election in spring next year, on a river boat in Paris, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) © The Associated Press Leftist contender for the Socialist primary election Arnaud Montebourg smiles after his speech to officially launch his primary campaign for France's presidential election in spring next year, on a river boat in Paris, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

PARIS — The Latest on France's presidential campaigns (all times local):

9:50 p.m.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is praising President Francois Hollande for deciding not to seek another term to give the country's Socialist party a better shot at victory.

Valls, who is considering making a run for the presidency himself, commended Hollande on Thursday for his "tough, mature, serious choice."

In a written statement, Valls called the decision "the choice of a statesman."

Hollande avoided saying during the televised address in which he announced he wouldn't seek a second term if he would support Valls — or any other candidate.

Hollande made his announcement a few days after Valls said he was "ready" to compete in the Socialist primary.

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8:25 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande says he decided against running for another term because he wants to give his Socialist party a chance to win "against conservatism and extremism."

Hollande said on French television Thursday that he was "lucid" about his chances of getting wide backing within the party, which remains deeply divided over his policies.

The historically unpopular president said the unexpected announcement: "Today, I am conscious of the risks that such a move would have if it doesn't get widespread support."

The 62-year-old Hollande also used his somber address to recap what he viewed as his achievements since taking office in 2012.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls is widely expected to jump into the Socialist primary field.

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8:15 p.m.

France's Socialist President Francois Hollande says he will not seek re-election next year.

Hollande's announcement Thursday on French television network TF1 came just a few days after his No. 2, Manuel Valls, said he is "ready" to compete in the left-wing Socialist primary in January.

Hollande said: "I have decided not to be a candidate in the presidential election" and that he remained "lucid" about his chances of getting wide backing within the party.

The deeply unpopular Hollande was expected to say in the coming weeks whether he would run again.

The French president — the most unpopular of France's modern history — repeatedly said he would seek re-election only if he was able to curb the unemployment rate, which has hovered for years at 10 percent.

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4:24 p.m.

Former French economy minister Arnaud Montebourg has formally entered the country's presidential race.

Montebourg announced his candidacy Thursday in the presidential primary France's Socialist party has scheduled for January.

The 54-year-old Montebourg's politics are firmly left-leaning. He lost his cabinet position in 2014 because he denounced president Francois Hollande's pro-business shift.

During a speech in Paris, Montebourg says he favors a strong state to protect France's industry from "foreign interests."

Another former economy minister of Hollande's, centrist Emmanuel Macron also is seeing the presidency but without taking part into a primary. Macron advocates free market policies.

Hollande must say whether he will stand for re-election before a Dec. 15 deadline.

The French conservatives have chosen former prime minister Francois Fillon as their nominee for the April-May presidential election..

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