Ex-prime minister Villepin to back Macron in French presidential vote

PARIS (Reuters) - Former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, a conservative Gaullist who won global celebrity by opposing U.S. plans for war in Iraq, said on Thursday he would back centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in Sunday’s presidential election.

“There is a new path, which Emmanuel Macron wants to open, and that is to unite,” Villepin told Le Parisien newspaper.

He said in the face of the traditional left-right party system that was imprisoned by its own divisions and extremes that were determined to flip the table over the choice of Macron was obvious.

Villepin, prime minister between 2005-2007 under then president Jacques Chirac, is best known internationally for announcing Chirac’s refusal to join a war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in an impassioned speech at the United Nations in 2003 when he was foreign minister.

Reporting by John Irish; editing by Michel Rose