Nicolas Sarkozy is making a political comeback in France.
He has joined the race to lead his conservative UMP party in a first step towards trying to win the presidency in 2017.
Mr Sarkozy, president from 2007 to 2012, announced his candidacy on Facebook.
In a long letter, he says: “I have decided to propose a new political choice to the French.”
Sarkozy, the 59-year-old husband of model-turned-singer Carla Bruni, is facing legal problems linked to corruption accusations.
But his successor, Socialist Francois Hollande, has become unpopular over his handling of the economy, and polls suggest some voters want Sarkozy to return.
“I love France too much. I am too passionate about public debate and the future of my compatriots to see them condemned to choose between the desperate spectacle of today and the prospect of dead-end isolation,” he wrote, in apparent reference to president Hollande's leadership and the recent rise of far right leader Marine Le Pen.
Since Sarkozy left office, he has followed his wife’s concert tour, given speeches at international events and been detained for questioning and faced legal charges.