Beleaguered French presidential candidate Francois Fillon says “no one” can stop him from taking part in the elections.
“No one today can prevent me being a candidate," said Fillon on Sunday during a television interview, despite calls from his own conservative party members to quit over a scandal involving his wife.
"I am not autistic. I want to convince my friends that my program is the only one that can bring about recovery for the country," he added, referring to a party meeting scheduled for Monday.
Last week, Fillon announced that he was to be charged over allegations that he paid his British wife hundreds of thousands of euros from taxpayers’ funds for a suspected fake job as his parliamentary assistant. He is also accused of hiring his children in fake jobs that paid them extremely high salaries while they were students.
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He went on to stress that the charges are aimed at making him withdraw from the presidential race, while noting that he would not quit the elections.
Fillon was a front-runner in the elections, which are to be held on April 23, before the corruption allegations were made against him in January.
He also took part in a Paris rally on Sunday, during which thousands of his supporters chanted for him to stay.
According to a new poll conducted in France, conservative politician Alain Juppe would certainly reach a second round of the election in the country if he replaces Fillon.