Updated: 02/12/16 : 04:59:45
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World :: Hollande will not contest French presidential election

In a surprise move Francois Hollande has announced he will not seek a second term as president of France.

"I've decided not to be a candidate to renew my mandate," the Socialist leader said in a live televised address.

The 62-year-old, faced with very low popularity ratings, has become the first sitting president in modern French history not to seek re-election.

Conservative Republicans party candidate Francois Fillon is seen as a favourite in next year's election.

Recent opinion polls suggest far-right contender Marine Le Pen from the National Front could be Mr Fillon's closest challenger.

"In the months to come, my only duty will be to continue to lead my country," Mr Hollande said on Thursday.

"The world, Europe, France have faced particularly serious challenges during my mandate. In these particularly challenging circumstances I wanted to maintain national cohesion," he said.

He was referring to deadly terrorist attacks in Nice last July and Paris in November 2015, as well as the shootings at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo several months before that.

Mr Hollande added that he was aware of the risks of running and warned of the threat from the National Front.

One of the first reactions came from a former economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, who said the president had made a "courageous decision". He is himself standing for president as an independent centrist, having resigned from the government a few months ago.