French UMP conservatives dissolve rebel faction

Jean-Francois Cope (R) and former Prime Minister Francois Fillon
Image caption The feud between Jean-Francois Cope (R) and Francois Fillon has been damaging to the UMP

A rebel faction of France's main conservative opposition party, the UMP, has been dissolved after a deal to hold a new leadership ballot emerged.

The R-UMP, as it was known, was dissolved at a meeting of party leaders at the National Assembly, said UMP parliamentary leader Christian Jacob.

Last month, the party agreed to hold a new vote before October.

Francois Fillon, whose allies created the R-UMP, had refused to accept Jean-Francois Cope's victory in November.

The new leadership team for the UMP is due to be announced shortly.

The row over who would succeed Nicolas Sarkozy as leader of the UMP threatened to break the party apart.

Mr Cope was declared the winner by a narrow margin but Mr Fillon's allies discovered uncounted votes.

An independent body will organise the new election.

According to France's centre-right newspaper Le Figaro, none of the R-UMP's 73 MPs was present at Tuesday's meeting.

The deal over the new vote was brokered by Jean-Pierre Raffarin, a former UMP prime minister.

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