November 20, 2012 - 18:44 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The French conservative UMP party has chosen Jean-Francois Cope as its next leader after a tight election marred by claims of fraud and ballot-stuffing, BBC News reported.
Mr Cope, an ally of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, won 50.03% of the vote, defeating ex-PM Francois Fillon, who polled 49.97%, by just 98 votes.
The final result was delayed for more than 24 hours.
Mr Cope, the UMP secretary general, is on the right of the party, while Mr Fillon is seen as more of a centrist.
Party grandees had urged the two candidates to end their war of words, warning that the UMP had been damaged.
The winner will inherit a party in difficult financial straits, after a series of electoral setbacks over the past five years, culminating in Mr Sarkozy's presidential defeat to Socialist rival Francois Hollande.