Nicolas Sarkozy has announced his return to French politics.
On his Facebook page, the former French president said he would seek the leadership of the opposition UMP party, widely seen as a first step towards a presidential bid in 2017.
Nicolas Sarkozy, 59, wrote: “I am a candidate to be president of my political family.”
The statement ends months of speculation about the intentions of Nicolas Sarkozy, who vowed to give up politics after he failed to be re-elected as president in 2012.
The UMP party elections are due to be held in November.
“After a lengthy period of reflection, I have decided to offer the French people a new political choice,” Nicolas Sarkozy wrote.
He said he could not “remain a spectator given the situation in which France finds itself, given the destruction of political debate and the persistence of the derisory splits within the opposition”.
Nicolas Sarkozy has many supporters who believe his energy are essential to pull France out of its current difficulties.
However, Nicolas Sarkozy remains a divisive figure. He was defeated by Francois Hollande in the 2012 election, becoming the first French president not to be re-elected for a second term since 1981.
Meanwhile, opinion polls suggest President Francois Hollande has now become the most unpopular French president in modern times.
Although Nicolas Sarkozy has kept a low profile since leaving office, he has faced a series of legal investigations that involve him in some capacity.
In July, he was placed under formal investigation on suspicion of seeking to influence judges who were looking into his affairs.
Other inquiries include one into Nicolas Sarkozy’s links with former Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi and another into illegal campaign funding in 2012. He denies any wrongdoing.
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