, PARIS, Jan 5 – French former defence minister Herve Morin will run for president as a centre-right candidate to rival President Nicolas Sarkozy, its spokesman said on Wednesday.
"He considers that the centrist project must be defended in the presidential election… and so he will be a candidate," said the spokesman for Morin\’s New Centre party, Jean-Marie Cavada, on France 2 television.
His announcement raises pressure on other would-be candidates for the 2012 presidential vote to announce their bids in the coming months.
Morin, 49, was the defence minister in Sarkozy\’s government until a reshuffle in November that saw some centre-right allies of the president thrown out.
Sarkozy is expected to run for re-election and his Socialist rival in the 2007 presidential polls, Segolene Royal, has announced she will contend for her party\’s nomination to run in 2012.
Other presidential contenders are expected to announce their bids in the coming months, including Sarkozy\’s big right-wing rival Dominique de Villepin and several other small centre-right parties.
One of the leaders of the New Centre, Jean-Christophe Lagarde, cautioned however that Morin\’s run was subject to party approval.