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Another twist in France’s dramatic presidential race.

Alain Juppé has said he will not run for French president in just 50 days’ time amid escalating pressure on the country’s right-wing candidate François Fillon to bow out of the race.

“I am not in a position to unify the party”, Mr Juppe said on Monday in Bordeaux. “Therefore I confirm that I will not be a candidate for the presidency.”

Mr Juppé was comprehensively defeated by Mr Fillon – also a former prime minister – in a contest to be the Republican party candidate late last year.

But the 71-year old had emerged as a possible candidate to replace Mr Fillon after it was confirmed he will face a formal investigation over an embezzlement scandal.

Despite vowing to continue in the race regardless of the judicial probe, Mr Fillon has been hemorrhaging support in his own camp, with Republican party grandees calling Mr Juppé to replace him.

The announcement comes as Nicolas Sarkozy called for a meeting with Mr Fillon and Mr Juppé to convince the embattled candidate to step down (read more here).

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