Sunday 19 November 2017

Fillon vows revenge for Hollande 'dirty tricks'

Francois Fillon
Francois Fillon

Rory Mulholland in Paris

François Fillon has vowed revenge on French President François Hollande for allegedly masterminding a dirty tricks campaign against him that nearly derailed the conservative candidate's bid for the Elysée.

The renewed assault on the Socialist leader came as far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon closed in on Mr Fillon, with polls showing the firebrand politician on the way to ousting his conservative rival from third place in the election race.

Mr Fillon took aim at maverick centrist Emmanuel Macron, the frontrunner for the first round of the vote, and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who is in second place in the polls, in a radio interview yesterday.

But the self-declared Thatcherite kept his most savage attacks for those he says successfully conspired, on the orders of Mr Hollande, to have prosecutors charge him with embezzlement of public funds.

He said he now knew who leaked documents about his wife and children's alleged fake jobs as his parliamentary aides and that he plans to sue them.

The 63-year-old Les Républicains candidate gave no names but said he had been informed certain officials personally delivered the documents to 'Le Canard Enchainé', the investigative weekly that broke the story and put an end to his previous lead in the election race.

"This affair was manufactured, and I will prove it. I have the dates, the days, the people who revealed the documents," Mr Fillon, who has denied any wrongdoing, told 'France Inter'.

"When the moment comes, I will unmask them. It's true there have been days when I've slept badly. But I assure you that those who created this affair won't sleep well either," he said.

Asked if he believed it was the president who was behind the whole affair, Mr Fillon replied: "Yes, of course."

He did not specifically say he planned to sue the president, whom he has previously accused of plotting to prevent him from winning the election that takes place in two rounds in late April and early May.

Government spokesman Stephane Le Foll retorted that Mr Fillon's comments were "defamatory" and that the justice system was independent and did not act on the president's orders.

Mr Fillon's accusations came as the latest opinion polls confirmed a surge of support for Mr Mélenchon after his strong showing in a television debate.

The polls put Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen either neck and neck or put Mr Macron just ahead.

Irish Independent

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