Former French prime minister, Manuel Valls, is not ready to endorse a candidate in the country’s presidential race, after denying reports he intended to back centrist Emmanuel Macron and ruling out support for his rival, Socialist Benoit Hamon.
French daily Le Parisien published an article on Monday citing sources close to Valls as saying he would throw his weight behind Macron in the first round of voting on April 23, France24 reported.
“Manuel Valls will soon call on voters to support his former rival Emmanuel Macron, and this, from as early as the first round of the election,” the newspaper wrote.
But a number of those close to Valls dismissed the report as inaccurate, including his former parliamentary substitute, Carlos Da Silva.
“This is false,” Da Silva wrote in a Twitter post linking to Le Parisien’s article.
Valls later confirmed to AFP that he had “denied this information” through his entourage.
The former prime minister also ruled out the possibility of endorsing Hamon in an interview published by French magazine Paris Match on Tuesday morning. Valls dropped out of the race for the presidency in January after losing to Hamon in the leftwing primaries.
“I cannot lend my support to Benoit Hamon,” he told Paris Match. “Hamon doesn’t inspire interest.”
Valls expressed concern, however, that lack of support for both Macron and Hamon could pave the way to victory for National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen.
“If the FN [scores] high on the night of the first round, things can really finish badly,” he said.
Recent opinion polls show Macron as the frontrunner in the election and that he will go on to defeat Le Pen in the second round of voting on May 7, while Hamon will be eliminated in the first round.