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Fillon’s Camp Says It Won Election to Lead French UMP Party

Francois Fillon, the former French prime minister who was declared the narrow loser of a vote to lead former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s political party, in reality won the vote because some overseas ballots weren’t counted, his campaign manager said.

In a televised press conference, campaign manager Eric Ciotti said some 1,304 ballots from French possessions in the Pacific and Indian Ocean weren’t counted, and that with these votes Fillon won the race by 26 votes over his rival, party whip Jean-Francois Cope.

After a full day of ballot counting, the UMP party declared Cope the winner of the Nov. 18 vote by 98 ballots out of about 150,000 cast. Cope told reporters in parliament today that the result of the election stands, AFP reported.

Speaking on France’s TF1 television evening news program, Fillon said he wanted to ask former Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppe to mediate a solution to what he called a “crisis.” Rather than accept the voting result, he would file a legal complaint, he said.

Cope said on the evening news program of France2 television that the results should stand.

“There are rules, we can’t change them,” he said. “I’m here to guarantee the respect of the statutes.”

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