French far-left leader Melenchon to run for president in 2022

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FILE PHOTO: Jean-Luc Melenchon, candidate of the French far-left Parti de Gauche and candidate for the French 2017 presidential election, speaks to supporters after the first round of 2017 French presidential election in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) - French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said on Sunday he would run for president in 2022 if he received enough public support for what would be his third bid for the Elysee Palace.

Melenchon, a spearhead of the opposition against French President Emmanuel Macron's economic policies and a supporter of the "yellow vest" anti-government protests, won an unprecedented 19.5% in the first round of the 2017 presidential election.

"We have to turn on a light at the end of the tunnel for people, we can do things differently," Melenchon said on television channel TF1's evening news.

"I am ready and I offer my candidacy," he said, adding he would do so only if 150,000 people signed up in favour in an online petition.

The left-wing firebrand, who also ran for president in 2012, has been a frequent critic of the government's handling of the coronavirus outbreak in France, where deaths topped 40,000 on Saturday.

A Paris suburb court handed him a suspended three-month prison term and a 8,000 euros ($9,509) fine in December 2019 for intimidating officials who were investigating him over possible funding irregularities.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by Philippa Fletcher)