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Far-right French party severs ties to firebrand founder Jean-Marie Le Pen

FILE - In this file photo dated Monday May 1, 2017, former far-right National Front party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen clenches his fist at the statue of Joan of Arc in Paris. France's far-right National Front definitively severed its ties to firebrand founder Jean-Marie Le Pen on Sunday March 11, 2018, as the nationalist party completes a makeover designed to revive its fortunes. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, FILE).
By Associated Press Reporter

France's far-right National Front party has confirmed it has severed its ties to firebrand founder Jean-Marie Le Pen as it tries to revive its fortunes.

The party also re-elected his daughter Marine Le Pen to a new term as president at party congress where she was its only candidate for the post.

A new 100-member governing council was also named.

The party tweeted on Sunday that more than 79 per cent of members who participated in a vote approved new party statutes that included abolishing Mr Le Pen's position of party president for life.

The party expelled him in 2015 over anti-Semitic remarks but he kept the honorary position.

Sunday's vote is a crushing blow for the 89-year-old, who founded the party in 1972 and was runner-up in the 2002 French presidential election.

National Front won a boost from a guest star appearance at the congress by former White House strategist Steve Bannon.

He told National Front members that "history is on our side".

Father and daughter Le Pen have waged a bitter power struggle since he named her to succeed him in 2011.

The elder Le Pen has been convicted multiple times for racism and anti-Semitism, and his positions complicated his daughter's efforts to clean up the party's image and expand its base into disillusioned mainstream French voters.

Abolishing the honorary position is an effort to bypass court rulings that he should be able to maintain his status as honorary party president for life.

The congress in Lille is aimed at remaking its image after Ms Le Pen made it to last year's French presidential run-off, riding a global populist wave – but suffered a crushing defeat to independent, pro-globalisation Emmanuel Macron.

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