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Hollande backs Syria military intervention
AFP–Xinhua | April 20, 2012 23:35
By Agencies
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The French presidential frontrunner, Socialist Francois Hollande, said Friday that he would support France joining an UN-sanctioned military intervention in Syria.

"If done within a UN framework, we would participate in such an intervention," Hollande told Europe 1 radio when asked about possible UN military action in Syria to protect civilians.

Western and Middle East powers meeting in Paris on Thursday said that they would seek tougher international action if Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime continues to flout a shaky UN peace plan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters yesterday that China will send personnel to join the UN observers mission and its advance team in Syria, adding that China is discussing the details with the UN Secretariat.

Hollande's comments came two days before France goes to the polls on Sunday to choose two candidates to contest a second-round presidential run-off on May 6, and Hollande is the opinion poll favorite, on course to oust right-wing incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

The Socialist candidate on Friday also urged the European Central Bank (ECB) to lower its interest rate to support growth.

Hollande has campaigned on his platform of a wider mandate for the central bank, but in the event of his victory France will find itself on a collision course with the eurozone's economic powerhouse, Germany. Berlin is dead set against changing the ECB's current role of focusing on maintaining price stability.

While Hollande was increasingly confident of victory, Sarkozy, dogged by criticism his flashy and overbearing style lowered the standing of France's head of state, apologized for his missteps on Friday, the final day of the presidential campaign in France's presidential election.

"Perhaps the mistake I made at the start of my mandate is not understanding the symbolic dimension of the president's role and not being solemn enough in my acts," a contrite Sarkozy told RTL radio.

"A mistake for which I would like to apologize or explain myself and which I will not make again," he said, insisting that "Now, I know the job."

The vote is seen by many as a referendum on the unpopular Sarkozy, who feted tycoons and married supermodel Carla Bruni during his five-year term, rather than a chance to choose France's first Socialist president since 1995.

The latest survey said Hollande would win 29 percent of votes to Sarkozy's 25.5 percent before the pair meet head-on in the second round.

IPSOS' Brice Teinturier said that if the figures proved accurate, "for the first time since the start of the Fifth Republic, five candidates will have double-figure scores."

AFP - Xinhua


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