REPORTING FROM PARIS -- French leader Nicolas Sarkozy, saying it was unthinkable that he would not want to continue as president given the challenges facing the world, announced Wednesday that he would seek a second term in office.
"I am a candidate in the presidential election," he said live on television.
Sarkozy, 57, who said he had made his decision "several weeks ago," said he wanted to remain in his post given the "unprecedented crisis in France, Europe and the world."
"It would be like a captain saying at the height of a storm that he was giving up," he said.
The announcement came after weeks of suspense in which Sarkozy's socialist rival, François Hollande, pulled farther ahead in opinion polls. Sarkozy had planned to officially announce his intentions later, but advisors persuaded him not to wait.
The first round of France's two-round presidential election is scheduled April 22. The second round comes in May.
Sarkozy said of Hollande: "I understand he criticizes me ... but does he have any ideas?"
-- Kim Willsher
Photo: President Nicolas Sarkozy on a French news broadcast on Wednesday. Credit: TF1