In brief: Sarkozy makes run for second term official
Paris – Nicolas Sarkozy threw himself Wednesday into what may be the toughest fight of his political career: Unpopular for years and running a feeble economy, the divisive French president announced he’s running for a second term.
The man who improved French relations with the United States, rallied European leaders to ward off financial meltdown and kicked off international airstrikes in Libya is widely disliked back at home. Polls suggest his Socialist challenger will be the one attending world summits come May.
But Sarkozy is not one to give up easily. He pledged Wednesday to get the jobless back in the workforce and new reforms to ensure a “strong France” and that the French “way of life” can survive the 21st century.
“Yes, I am a candidate,” he said on national TV network TF1 on Wednesday night, ending weeks of largely artificial suspense over whether he would run.
Pollsters say the president will face an uphill battle. The first of two voting rounds is April 22.
Egypt to hold presidential elections in May
Cairo – Egypt will hold its first presidential elections since Hosni Mubarak’s 2011 ouster in May, a month earlier than previously scheduled, as part of an accelerated transition to civilian rule demanded by revolutionary political factions, state news media and officials said Wednesday.
The announcement came amid renewed worker strikes, marches in protest of a deadly soccer riot, a new civil disobedience campaign and pressure from powerful Islamist factions calling on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to cede authority immediately. The council previously had said it would transfer power after presidential elections in June.