French President Hollande vows to fight for weakest until he steps down

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French President Francois Hollande holds a press conference during a visit of The Louvre Abu Dhabi on December 3, 2016 play

French President Francois Hollande holds a press conference during a visit of The Louvre Abu Dhabi on December 3, 2016

(AFP)

French President Francois Hollande vowed Saturday to spend the final months of his presidency fighting to protect the rights of the most vulnerable in society and the world.

Speaking on his first foreign trip since announcing he would not stand for re-election, the socialist president also hit out at the policies of the conservative candidate who is now favourite to succeed him in May.

"My decisions as president have been based first and foremost on protecting," Hollande said, adding that he had always sought to look out for the "most vulnerable" and "civilian populations threatened by wars and terrorism".

"This will be my task until the month of May."

Hollande took issue with a campaign pledge by conservative frontrunner Francois Fillon to shed 500,000 public sector jobs if he becomes president.

"When you have no civil servants, you have no state, and when you have no state, you have no France," he told members of the French expatriate community in Abu Dhabi.

Hollande was in the United Arab Emirates capital to attend a conference on protecting the world's cultural heritage against the threats of extremism and conflict.

He also visited the site of the new Louvre Abu Dhabi, which is expected to open in 2017 after much delay.

Faced with record low approval ratings, Hollande announced on Thursday that he would not put his name forward to stand as socialist candidate in next year's presidential election.

Opinion polls suggest that Fillon and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen will win the first round in April and face each other in a runoff the following month.

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