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Alain Juppe refuses to run for France's president instead of Fillon

March 06, 2017, 13:33 UTC+3 PARIS

Francois Fillon remains the only candidate from the Republican Party after Juppe’s refusal

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Former French prime minister Alain Juppe

Former French prime minister Alain Juppe

© AP Photo/Bob Edme

PARIS, March 6. /TASS/. Bordeaux’s Mayor Alain Juppe has refused to take part in the presidential race as a candidate from the Republican Party. Speaking at an urgent news conference in Bordeaux that he had convened, the politician said that he "will not be able to ensure the party’s unity."

"Ensuring the party’s unity today is a far more difficult task than a few months ago. Now, it is too late to put forward my candidacy," the mayor said. "I confirm once and for all that I will not be a candidate in this election".

Juppe voiced regret over the current crisis in the Republican Party and the lack of the traditional unanimity with the centrists. "Never before have the elections in France been in such a muddled situation," the politician admitted, adding that other candidates will either not make it to the second round of the election or "are steering the country toward catastrophe."

"The victory of Emmanuel Macron [leader of the En Marche, or On the Move, movement] would mean the continuation of the destructive policy pursued by [French President Francois] Hollande, while the National Front will steer the country toward catastrophe," the Mayor of Bordeaux asserted.

Mayor Juppe’s speech took center stage. He admitted that he had received many appeals from his fellow party members asking him to run for president against the backdrop of the scandal plaguing Francois Fillon. "I do not want to take part in this bargaining," Juppe emphasized.

Republican party’s only candidate — Fillon

The registration of candidates will close on March 17.

However, two days prior to that deadline, Fillon, despite his parliamentary immunity, will have to appear before investigators in connection to the scandal with his wife.

Observers do not rule out that, after the meeting, the politician could be accused of financial impropriety. However, both Fillon and his defense attorneys say that "this probe has been trumped up and is politically motivated" and will not prevent him from taking part in the election.

The first round of the French presidential election will be held on April 23, the second on May 7.

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