Nicolas Sarkozy's presidential campaign will begin on Wednesday, close ally foreign minister Alain Juppe said, confirming that the French leader will seek re-election in an April-May ballot.
The centre-right President, who badly lags Socialist candidate Francois Hollande in opinion polls, was widely expected to seek a second term in a presidential contest that takes place in two rounds on April 22 and May 6.
"There is no mystery. The president has chosen the right moment to declare himself," Juppe told France Info radio. "Now the real campaign starts. We will have the real debate and see the weaknesses of the Socialist candidate."