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French elections: Fillon vows to fight on in defiance rally

'No one today can prevent me being a candidate,' Fillon said in a TV interview in which he again said a probe into allegations he gave his wife a highly-paid fake parliamentary job was politically motivated. Photograph: (AFP)

AFP Paris, France Mar 05, 2017, 07.54 PM (IST)

Beleaguered French conservative candidate Francois Fillon struck a defiant note on Suday, insisting "no one" can stop him from running the upcoming presidential elections.

Fillon has faced intense criticism from within his party after allegations that he paid his wife thousands of euros for a fake parliamentary job.

About 250 party insiders have called for his head, suggesting he should step down as the party torchbearer due to the damage done to his reputation following the outbreak of the scandal.

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

"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, Fillon said: "My answer is 'no'."

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

Besides Fillon stood his wife Penelope, the person in the eye of the storm.

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.

(WION with inputs fom AFP)

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