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French Presidential Candidate Marine Le Pen Steps Aside As National Front Leader

Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has announced that she is stepping aside as leader of her National Front party.

The move comes just a day after she reached the second round of the French election, where she will face centrist Emmanuel Macron. Ms Le Pen told French TV she needed to be above partisan considerations.

Opinion polls suggest Mr Macron is firm favourite for the second round but Ms Le Pen said they can win and will win.

The French term she used signalled that the move to step aside would be temporary. She told France 2 that France was approaching a “decisive moment”.

Ms Le Pen said her decision had been made out of the “profound conviction” that the president must bring together all of the French people.

Meanwhile, also on Monday, Mr Fillon told party leaders that he “no longer had the legitimacy” to take the party into legislative elections that will follow next month’s presidential run-off.

Ms Le Pen took over the FN leadership from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in January 2011. She won 7.6 million votes on Sunday – the strongest ever result for a FN candidate, and 2.8 million more than her father won in 2002.

Her party wants to slash immigration, clamp down on trade, and overturn France’s relationship with Europe. Mr Macron, a former economy minister, is widely expected to win the run-off vote on 7 May.

On Monday, he won the backing of President Hollande, to go with that of two defeated candidates.

Mr Macron, 39, has never stood for election before, and if he wins would become France’s youngest-ever president.

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