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France's Le Pen Temporarily Steps Down As Leader Of Far-Right Party

Marine Le Pen

France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says she is temporarily stepping down as the leader of her National Front party as she campaigns to become "a president of all French people."

Le Pen, who advanced to the second round of France’s presidential election by taking second place in the first-round vote on April 23, made the announcement in an interview on France 2 television.

Le Pen faces a struggle ahead of the May 7 second-round ballot.

Opinion polls currently show her 24 to 28 percentage points behind the winner of the first-round vote, centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron.

The defeated socialist and conservative candidates in the April 23 vote -- Benoit Hamon and Francois Fillon -- have called on their supporters to vote for Macron in the second round.

Both have criticized Le Pen as an extremist.

President Francois Hollande also endorsed Macron on April 24.

Based on reporting by France 2, AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP, and BBC