PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy indicated on Sunday he would step down from political leadership after accepting responsibility for his defeat by Socialist Francois Hollande.

During his campaign, he had promised to quit politics if he became only the second French president to lose a bid for re-election. Conceding defeat on Sunday, he said: "I am not a man to shirk responsibilities. When there is a defeat, it is the Number 1 who accepts the consequences. "I accept all the responsibility for this defeat," he added.

"My role cannot be the same again. My engagement in the public life of my country will be different from now on. I am preparing to become just one French citizen amongst many."

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