Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has announced he will stand as an independent candidate in next year’s presidential election.
The news is likely to annoy the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy who, should he decide to stand for re-election, will probably lose some vital votes in the first round of the contest.
Villepin slid out of frontline politics after the Clearstream affair in which he was accused of trying to smear Sarkozy in the run up to the 2007 presidential poll. He was eventually cleared of complicity but only after a long and bitter legal battle.
Villepin, 58, is an experienced politician but his critics say he lacks the common touch.
Some might also say his decision to stand is an act of revenge on his long term rival although Villepin is not expected to be a serious contender as many of his former allies have moved over to the Sarkozy camp.