“I announce that France recognises the Syrian National Coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people and thus as the future provisional government of a democratic Syria, allowing an end to the Bashar al-Assad regime,” Hollande told a press conference.
The announcement makes France the first major power to officially recognise the broad-based opposition coalition established in Doha on Sunday.
The move came 24 hours after the coalition was recognised by the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.
France’s ally Britain has said it wants to see more evidence that the opposition grouping has strong support inside Syria before formally recognising it as effectively a government in exile.
The United States has expressed support for the coalition and said it will work with it as it seeks to overthrow the regime of President Assad.
The diverse forces involved in the coalition agreed on Sunday to unify their fighting forces under a supreme military council and set up a national judicial commission for rebel-held areas in Syria.
They plan to form a provisional government once the coalition has been widely recognised internationally.