AKIPRESS.COM - In a surprise move Francois Hollande has announced he will not seek a second term as president of France, reported BBC.
"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.
But Mr Hollande's decision not to stand now opens up the Socialist party contest in January. Prime Minister Manuel Valls is likely to be favourite to win the candidacy, having said last weekend he was ready to run.
Mr Valls described Mr Hollande's decision not to run as "the choice of a statesman".
Last weekend, more than four million French voters chose Mr Fillon, a former prime minister, to represent the Republicans in the two-stage presidential election in April and May next year.