French opposition chief quits

PARIS: The chairman of France’s conservative opposition party UMP, Jean-Francois Cope, bowed to pressure on Tuesday to step down amid an investigation into party funding, throwing open the race for the UMP nomination for president in 2017.
UMP finances have been the subject of a legal inquiry after the lawyer of an events company hired for former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2012 re-election bid alleged that the firm had been ordered by party officials to produce millions of euros’ worth of fake invoices to cover campaign cost over-runs. The affair could complicate the come-back hopes of Sarkozy, whose rivals could include his former prime minister Francois Fillon, Alain Juppe - who held the same post in the 1990s - and candidates from the party’s younger generation. 

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