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Francois Fillon gets unanimous support from his party

Leaders of the French conservative party have tightened ranks behind their struggling presidential candidate Francois Fillon, and given up on pushing him out.

Speaking after an urgent meeting of The Republicans party's leaders on Monday, Senate Speaker Gerard Larcher said the party's political committee "unanimously renewed its support for Francois Fillon".

"The Republicans are therefore gathered and determined around Francois Fillon," Larcher told reporters.

After the same meeting, Bernard Accoyer, the party's secretary general, said The Republicans are behind their candidate "with a new impulse" and that they "are ready again to go into battle and have relaunched the campaign".

Fillon, a former prime minister and once the front-runner in France's two-round April-May presidential election, has lost the support of a part of the voters, with recent polls repeatedly suggesting that he would be eliminated from the race in the first round.

Fillon has been summoned to appear before judges next week for allegedly using taxpayers' money to pay family members for jobs that they may not have performed. He may be given preliminary charges in the case.

Many conservative lawmakers have called on ex-prime minister Alain Juppe to run in Mr Fillon's place.

Mr Juppe ruled himself out as a candidate on Monday.

AP

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