Francois Hollande announces he will not seek re-election as French president

Mr Hollande's decision comes only days after the centre-right Republican party chose Francois Fillon as their candidate

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France's President Francois Hollande (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, pool)

Francois Hollande has announced he will not seek a second term as French president.

He is the first sitting president in modern French history to not seek re-election.

It comes amid his low approval rating - recently dropping to a mere 4%.

Mr Hollande explained his decision in a video and series of tweets this evening.

He said he decided against running again because he wanted to give the Socialists a chance to win "against conservatism and extremism".

"In the months to come, I will commit myself to continuing to lead this state, as part of the mandate for which I was elected in 2012," he concluded.

Mr Hollande's decision will intensify the race to choose the Socialist candidate for next year's presidential election.

There have already been calls for French Prime Minister Manuel Valls to contest the party's primary in January, and he has indicated he is "ready" to compete.

Former economy minister Arnaud Montebourg has announced his intention to compete for the nomination.

On Sunday, Francois Fillon was chosen as the Republican candidate after winning the centre-right party's presidential primary.

Mr Fillon has proposed spending cuts, increasing sales tax, scrapping a tax on the wealthy, fewer restrictions on the working week and raising the retirement age to 65.

Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen is also contesting the election, seeking to build on the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-establishment feeling in France and other parts of Europe.

Additional reporting by IRN