Front National's Le Pen Accuses Leaders of Playing Politics Over Charlie Hebdo March

Le Pen
France's far-right National Front political party leader Marine Le Pen arrives to attend a meeting at the Elysee palace in Paris, January 9, 2015. Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

Plans for a Charlie Hebdo solidarity march in Paris this Sunday organized by French President François Hollande and opposition leader Nicolas Sarkozy has come under fire from leaders of France's far-right and far-left, who have both accused the main party leaders of using the tragedy for political means.

Marine Le Pen, leader of France's far-right Front National, expressed her "regret" over not being invited to the 'Republican march', despite wanting to attend, and casting doubt over the genuine motives behind the event.

"I will not go where I am not wanted," Le Pen told AFP on Friday.

"I was ready to participate and I was very sincere about my desire to pay homage [to the victims of the shooting]," Le Pen said, before adding "regrettably, all is clear now".

Le Pen, whose party won 25% of the French vote in the European Parliamentary elections in May, the highest proportion of any party, has emerged as a frontrunner for the presidential election in 2017. In an Ifop poll in September, the Front National leader, who has promised to pull France out of NATO, opposed same-sex marriage and vowed to drastically reduce immigration, came top as the most popular choice for president in 2017.

In the run up to Sunday's march Le Pen flaunted her new found popularity in highlighting that her party stands for "millions of French men and women", whom President Hollande's Socialist Party had stifled by not extending an invite to Le Pen.

"The Socialist Party have screwed up this opportunity to show respect to the victims and also a regard for the freedom of expression and the freedom of opinion by excluding a political movement which came out on top in the last election," Le Pen said.

Le Pen then accused Hollande and Sarkozy of assembling the march to take advantage of France's "national unity" over the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, but expressed her belief that the ideal would continue to exist "irrespective of whether Hollande and Sarkozy find it useful or not".

Meanwhile Olivier Besancenot from the far-left Anti-Capitalist Party, who was invited to the march has refused to attend, accusing Hollande and Sarkozy of using the attacks as an "instrument of politics".

Olivier Besancenot, who has partaken in socialist demonstrations, alleged the event is an attempt for the main party leaders to use the tragedy to play up their own image and present themselves as alternatives to Le Pen.

He told Le Monde on Friday that he will be absent from the march as he did not want to "back François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy when they want to dance to the tune of Front National".

Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the Left Party, will attend the event but said he would do so without recognising the main party organisers, adding he will "not recognise the authority" of Hollande's prime minister Manuel Valls over conducting the march. Instead Mélenchon expressed his hope that the trade unions and activists will take charge of the event.

Thousands are expected on the streets of Paris on Sunday afternoon with a poll taken on the website of France's daily newspaper Le Figaro showing that 43% out of almost 58,000 respondents said they would definitely attend. Among those attending are British prime minister David Cameron, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi and European Council President Donald Tusk.