NICOLAS Sarkozy (pictured) has stepped in to try and stop warring rivals from killing off France's main right-wing party.
The former French president acted after a plea from UMP veterans that only he could save it from implosion. A venomous battle to lead the party Mr Sarkozy used to run entered its second week amid claims of ballot-stuffing, foul play on both sides, and concerns that the UMP is irrevocably split.
'Le Figaro', France's leading conservative daily newspaper, said the Right was committing "live suicide". Faced with impending chaos, Mr Sarkozy stepped off a plane from Shanghai to have lunch with his former prime minister Francois Fillon, who is mounting a legal challenge against his rival, Jean-Francois Cope, over who won the November 18 leadership election.
Mr Cope did not wait for the official results on November 18, to claim he had won by 98 votes out of nearly 175,000, leading to claims he'd acted like Jean-Bedel Bokassa, self-declared "emperor" of the Central African Empire. Mr Fillon insisted he would have won if 1,000 overseas ballots had not been wrongly excluded.
Two-thirds of UMP supporters want to see Mr Sarkozy run in the 2017 presidential election. (© Daily Telegraph, London)