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Sarkozy challenges Hollande to public debates

France,Politics, Mon, 23 Apr 2012 IANS

Paris, April 23 (IANS) President Nicolas Sarkozy has challenged socialist Francois Hollande, who won the first round of France's presidential poll, to hold three public debates with him before the second round of the vote.


"I propose that three debates be organised. The French have the right to truth and clarity," Sarkozy said Sunday, challenging Hollande.


Hollande won the first round of France's presidential poll, setting up a run-off with Sarkozy who came second, reported Xinhua.


Hollande got about 28 percent of votes Sunday, according to projections based on partial results, against about 26 percent for centre-right incumbent Sarkozy.


"Tonight, I become by the French vote the candidate of all the forces who want to close a page and open another. Thanks to you, tonight, change is now running, and nothing, I say nothing, will stop it," Hollande said in a speech at his headquarters in Tulle, south west France.


"On May 6, I want a great victory worth of France of its history and its future," he told supporters.


Portraying himself as the best candidate to cruise to the Elysee Palace after Sunday's results, Hollande urged a large gathering which "should be as wide as possible" in the decisive round scheduled May 6.


The two leading candidates will meet in a second round May 6.


Presidential frontrunners Sarkozy and Hollande are set to resume their duel April 27 with a series of campaign rallies. A face-to-face television debate is scheduled for May 2.


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