The following is an excerpt from BBC.com | March 5, 2017 |
Beleaguered French politician Francois Fillon has declared "no one can stop" his bid for the presidency after a mass rally attended by thousands in Paris.
The centre-right candidate insisted he would not be standing down during an interview on French television, despite growing calls for him to quit the race.
He faces a criminal investigation over payments made to family members.
Meanwhile, Alain Juppe, who is widely tipped to replace him, has announced he will be making a statement on Monday.
Mr Fillon had earlier told tens of thousands of supporters, many waving tricolour flags, he would be cleared over allegations he had paid his family for work they did not do.
These allegations have resulted in Mr Fillon's popularity slipping in opinion polls, and Sunday's rally was seen as a crucial test, with senior figures in his party said to be eyeing up a replacement.
Just before the rally Christian Estrosi, a close ally of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, told BFMTV that senior Republicans would propose an alternative candidate in the coming hours.
However, he said it was important "not to humiliate" Mr Fillon and allow him a "dignified" way out.
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