PARIS: President Nicolas Sarkozy's 23-year-old son Jean, at the centre of a bitter row over alleged nepotism, said Thursday he would not apply for a job managing France's wealthiest business district.

"I will not go for the presidency" of the EPAD agency overseeing development in the Paris business area La Defense, the second-year law student told France 2 television.

Jean Sarkozy, who said he would still seek election to the board running the area, slammed critics who he said had waged a campaign of "manipulation and of disinformation" against him.

He said he wanted to avoid a "tainted victory" and any "hint of favouritism."

France's main opposition Socialist Party had formally urged the president "to abandon this disastrous project that has already made France a laughing stock among democracies."

Dubbed "Prince Jean" by the press, Sarkozy junior has risen from a little-known Sorbonne University student to a major player in his father's former fiefdom in fewer than two years.

But the blond-haired Sarkozy firmly rejected suggestions that his father was behind his meteoric rise.