: :inin Kyiv (EET)

French PM Valls poised to announce 2017 presidential bid

France`s Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls will announce on Monday he is standing for the presidency in next year`s election, French media reported, according to Reuters.

The move would make him a front runner to lead his battered party against the center-right`s Francois Fillon and the National Front`s Marine Le Pen in the 2017 poll, Reuters reports.

Valls` office said he would make a statement at 17:30 GMT at the town hall in Evry, just south of Paris, but gave no further details.

French media added that Valls was expected to resign as prime minister on Tuesday, with finance minister Michel Sapin and interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve seen as likely candidates to replace him.

”I think that Mr Valls wants to be candidate,” French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll told France Info on Monday.

The ruling Socialists, behind the center-right Les Republicains and the far-right National Front parties in opinion polls, are organizing a primary in January to pick their candidate.

Valls has long been seen as a presidential candidate, and his status as the Socialists` likely choice for 2017 was cemented further last week after Francois Hollande said he would not seek a second term.

Valls` main rival for the party ticket is likely to be Arnaud Montebourg, a leftist firebrand and former economy minister under Hollande.

”We will have a debate at which we will be able to contrast our programs against each other,” Montebourg told Public Senat television on Monday.

A snap opinion poll, conducted on Thursday night after Hollande`s statement, showed that Socialist voters and French voters as a whole wanted to see Valls win the party ticket to run for president next year.


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