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Vote for Sarkozy successor descends into chaos

Published on Nov 20, 2012 6:07 AM
France's main centre-right opposition UMP party general secretary, Jean-Francois Cope (L) flanked by team campaign members speaks to the press after the announcement of his victory in a battle for the leadership of the opposition right-wing UMP party, on November 19, 2012 at the party's headquarters in Paris a day after the election. -- PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - The battle to succeed Nicolas Sarkozy at the helm of France's right-wing opposition UMP party turned into a shambles on Monday, with both candidates claiming victory and trading accusations of electoral fraud.

Mr Jean-Francois Cope, the party's firebrand secretary general, declared to cheering supporters after voting closed late Sunday that he was the victor, but ex-prime minister Francois Fillon announced just minutes later that he had won.

Mr Cope repeated his claim on television Monday, as Fillon supporters took to the airwaves to insist their man had triumphed in the vote that came six months after Mr Sarkozy lost the presidency to Socialist Francois Hollande.

Both camps claimed there were irregularities - and cheating - in voting in several areas and the party's electoral commission was Monday recounting ballots.

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