Fillon Refuses to Pull Out of French Presidential Election

Francois Fillon (C) attends a rally in Place du Trocadero in Paris on March 5.Francois Fillon (C) attends a rally in Place du Trocadero in Paris on March 5.

Scandal-hit French conservative candidate, Francois Fillon, said on Sunday “no one” could stop him from running in the presidential election despite calls from his own party to quit over an expenses scandal.

“No one today can prevent me being a candidate,” Fillon said in a TV interview with France 2, in which he again said a probe into allegations he gave his wife a highly-paid fake parliamentary job was politically motivated, France24 reported.

“Of course it is aimed at stopping me being a candidate,” Fillon said of the probe in which he is to be charged on March 15.

Asked if he would bow to calls from within his own Republicans party to withdraw, he said: “My answer is ‘no’.”

Fillon was the frontrunner in the race until the fake jobs allegations were made in mid-January.

He has since lost support and polls currently show he risks being knocked out in the first round on April 23 with far-right leader Marine Le Pen and 39-year-old centrist Emmanuel Macron progressing to the runoff two weeks later.

  Hollande Slams Le Pen

Outgoing French President François Hollande said in European newspaper interviews published on Monday that his “ultimate duty” was to prevent a victory of far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen in this year’s election.

“My ultimate duty is to make sure that France is not won over by such a program and that France does not bear such a heavy responsibility,” said Hollande of the risk of a Le Pen victory in the election.

He added it was inevitable that the European Union would have countries progressing at “different speeds” and that he saw no reason to call into question Donald Tusk’s role as president of the European Council.

He also said the “euphoria” of financial markets after the election of US President Donald Trump appeared to be “very premature”.

During the interview, he also warned that Britain cannot hang on to the advantages of EU membership after it leaves, saying his message to Britain is: “That’s not possible; the UK will become an outsider to the European Union.”

Hollande added that he prepares to host a summit in Versailles to discuss the future of the European Union after Britain’s departure. He said he regretted Britain’s decision to leave but stressed France’s long-held position that the UK could not exit the EU while holding on to any of the perks of membership.


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