Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has announced that he is returning to politics, vowing to offer a "new political choice" to disenchanted French voters.

In a statement on his Facebook page he said: "I am a candidate to be president of my political family".

The statement puts an end to months of speculation that he would return to the political scene.

"After a lengthy period of reflection, I have decided to offer the French people a new political choice," he said.

He said he could not "remain a spectator given the situation in which France finds itself, given the destruction of political debate and the persistence of the derisory splits within the opposition."

"I love France too much: I am too impassioned by public debate and the future of my countrymen to see them forced to choose between the desperate situation of today and the prospect of isolation without a way out," added the 59-year-old.