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Sarkozy out, Holland in

9 May

Sarkozy out, Holland in

Francois Hollande the French president elect, joined Nicolas Sarkozy at Paris’s armistice commemorations in an awkward  show of unity between political rivals after the intense election campaign.

Inspecting troops and laying wreaths at the Arc de Triomphe, the defeated right-wing president Sarkozy looked downbeat and gloomy as he led his final state ceremony before quitting office next Tuesday. Hollande will then become the first Socialist president since François Mitterrand.

The two men stood silently side by side at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before laying a wreath together and greeting veterans. Less than a week earlier they faced off in the most aggressive presidential TV debate France had ever seen, with Sarkozy calling Hollande a “little slanderer”. On TV Sarkozy had complained that left-wing critics had compared him to a number of European fascists such as Hitler.  Hollande and Sarkozy will next meet at the Elysee on May 15 for the traditional protocol-laden handover of power, during which they will have a private meeting where Sarkozy hands over the codes to France’s nuclear deterrent.

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