Sarkozy calls for re-vote in French right showdown
PARIS (AFP) - Ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy called on Monday for a fresh vote to resolve the bitter leadership battle that has left France's main right-wing opposition party, the UMP, on the verge of collapse, party officials said.
The UMP, the political heir to the party founded by Charles de Gaulle after World War II, is in turmoil after accusations of vote-rigging tarnished a leadership vote pitting former prime minister Francois Fillon against hardline rival Jean-Francois Cope.
At a peacemaking lunch on Monday with Mr Fillon, Mr Sarkozy said holding a new vote would "avoid an escalation of the conflict", a party source told AFP - an account confirmed by both Fillon and Cope loyalists in the party.
Still reeling from its loss of the presidency and parliament this year, the UMP is facing the spectre of an unprecedented split as both rivals have refused to back down in the increasingly angry dispute.