French President Francois Hollande has apologised to the country's outraged magistrates after he called the judiciary "a cowardly institution" in private conversations published in a book titled "A President Should Not Say That".
In a letter to the magistrate high council, Hollande on Friday said he "deeply regrets what has been seen as an injury by the magistrates".
He argued that his comments are "unrelated to the reality of my thinking and to my way of action I have set as president of the Republic".
"I assure you the confidence I have for the judiciary and for those who make it live and deserve the utmost respect."
In private interviews, Hollande reportedly told two journalists of the daily Le Monde that "this institution is cowardly. All these prosecutors, these senior judges are playing the virtuous".
The spat with the judiciary is likely to taint the Socialist's outlook few months ahead of the presidential elections, an expert said.
"I still think he wants to stand, but he has not made the task any easier," Socialist Party Secretary Jean-Christophe Cambadelis said.
Claude Bartolone, president of the National Assembly and a Socialist party veteran, said: "A president should not confess too much."
"A hesitation is emerging.
I have told him I am stupefied (by the book). There is a pressing need to explain whether he really wants to be a candidate," Bartolone said.
Hollande said that he would announce by the end of this year if he will seek a second term.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)