An emergency meeting of the French conservative party's leadership has unanimously backed Francois Fillon as candidate for the presidential election, Senate leader Gerard Larcher says, despite a scandal over alleged misuse of public funds.
The leader of the conservative the Republicans Party, Bernard Accoyer, confirmed the deal, saying the party had reunited and was re-launching Fillon's campaign.
Earlier today Fillon urged his conservative party to rally around him, saying he was the only legitimate candidate despite calls by many in his camp for him to pull out of the French presidential race over allegations of misuse of public funds.
"It is time for everybody to get their act together and come back to their senses," he told senior party members gathered to discuss the crisis, according to a text.
Fillon, who overwhelmingly won primaries organised by the Republicans and their allies in November, added: "I call on all the women and men of goodwill to rally, respect the message our voters sent during the primaries and unite behind my candidacy, which is the only legitimate one".
Alain Juppe, another former Prime Minister, ruled out replacing the scandal-hit Fillon in the coming election but offered no alternative candidates, leaving conservative heavyweights scrambling to find a way to get their party back in the race.
- Reuters, AAP