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Petition urges Obama to run for president - of France

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/3/2017 By SAMUEL PETREQUIN, Associated Press
American Sarah Wachter speaks to The Associated-Press during an interview next to a campaign poster with the picture of former U.S. President Barack Obama reading in French "yes we can" in Paris, Friday, March 3, 2017. An online petition urging Barack Obama to join the French presidential race has attracted more than 45,000 signatures in 10 days. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) © The Associated Press American Sarah Wachter speaks to The Associated-Press during an interview next to a campaign poster with the picture of former U.S. President Barack Obama reading in French "yes we can" in Paris, Friday, March 3, 2017. An online petition urging Barack Obama to join the French presidential race has attracted more than 45,000 signatures in 10 days. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

PARIS (AP) — "Oui on peut!"

A man walks past a campaign poster with the picture of former U.S. President Barack Obama reading in French "yes we can" in Paris, Friday, March 3, 2017. An online petition urging Barack Obama to join the French presidential race has attracted more than 45,000 signatures in 10 days. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) © The Associated Press A man walks past a campaign poster with the picture of former U.S. President Barack Obama reading in French "yes we can" in Paris, Friday, March 3, 2017. An online petition urging Barack Obama to join the French presidential race has attracted more than 45,000 signatures in 10 days. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

The slogan on posters in Paris streets translates as "Yes We Can!"

Two organiser of a online petition known under the pseudonym of Antoine and Antoine wearing masks of former U.S. President Barack Obama as they stick a campaign poster on a wall who reads "yes we can" in Paris, Friday, March 3, 2017. An online petition urging Barack Obama to join the French presidential race has attracted more than 45,000 signatures in 10 days. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) © The Associated Press Two organiser of a online petition known under the pseudonym of Antoine and Antoine wearing masks of former U.S. President Barack Obama as they stick a campaign poster on a wall who reads "yes we can" in Paris, Friday, March 3, 2017. An online petition urging Barack Obama to join the French presidential race has attracted more than 45,000 signatures in 10 days. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Heard that before?

Two organizers of an online petition wearing masks of former U.S. President Barack Obama stick a campaign poster reading "yes we can" in French, on a wall in Paris, Friday, March 3, 2017. An online petition urging Barack Obama to join the French presidential race has attracted more than 45,000 signatures in 10 days. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) © The Associated Press Two organizers of an online petition wearing masks of former U.S. President Barack Obama stick a campaign poster reading "yes we can" in French, on a wall in Paris, Friday, March 3, 2017. An online petition urging Barack Obama to join the French presidential race has attracted more than 45,000 signatures in 10 days. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

The people behind the campaign are urging former U.S President Barack Obama to join the French presidential race.

Their online petition has already attracted more than 45,000 signatures in 10 days and they hope to reach a million supporters by March 15.

With the buildup to the April-May presidential election so far dominated by the corruption investigation targeting conservative Francois Fillon, organizers say they want to inject a dose of humor in the campaign.

The whole thing started as a big joke between friends, one of the organizers told The Associated Press. He identified himself only as "Antoine," declining to give his real name because the posters have been put up illegally and he feared a fine.

Antoine, who spoke to the AP in Paris with his face covered by a cut-out mask of Obama, said that he and his friends decided on the campaign over a drink, after realizing they didn't know for whom they would vote.

Antoine said he invested 1,500 euros ($1,592) in the campaign, printing out 500 posters. The team has also had mugs and T-shirts made with the image of Obama, which they are selling on their website.

They say the profits will go to a scholarship fund for students from poor neighborhoods attending classes at Sciences Politiques, one of France's most prestigious universities.

Though widely popular in France, Obama has no chance of success. He is not French and has no right to take part in the race.

Sarah Wachter, an American who has lived in France since 1999, sees the petition as a positive sign for France.

"People want change but they want the right kind of change. Change that is inclusive, change that is human but change that is also open to the world and that is a very delicate balance to strike," she told AP. "But I think that Obama has done that in the United States."

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