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Rivals dispute leadership of France's conservatives

Published on Nov 19, 2012 8:10 AM

PARIS (REUTERS) - The result of a tightly fought two-way contest to choose the next leader of France's conservatives remained unclear on Sunday, with both sides claiming they had won.

Mr Jean-Francois Cope, a disciple of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, announced his victory to reporters around 2230 GMT, only for former prime minister Francois Fillon to say 20 minutes later that he was in the lead.

Cope supporters said he was some 1,000 votes ahead, while Mr Fillon said he had a lead of more than 200 votes.

The confusion came after several hours during which both camps claimed there had been irregularities in the voting process.

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