The Latest: Macron promises places for new ministers

AP News
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Posted: Mar 28, 2017 12:33 PM
The Latest: Macron promises places for new ministers

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on France's presidential campaign (all times local):

6:30 p.m.

Independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron has vowed to renew France's political elites by allowing new figures to join the government if elected in the upcoming presidential election.

Macron said in a news conference a potential prime minister would need political experience, but other government members would be a mix of politicians and others from civil society groups and business.

"I wish for women and men who come from the private sector, who have competences in this sphere and who agree to put these competences for a few years at the service of the public," he said.

Macron said he is convinced that if the French people choose him as president, they will also vote for the candidates of his movement in the June parliamentarian elections, so that he will have a majority at the National Assembly.

Macron, economy minister from 2014 to 2016, launched his En Marche! (In Motion!) movement last year. He has never held elected office.

Polls suggest he is likely to be among the two top contenders in the first round of the presidential election on April 23 and to advance to the May 7 runoff.

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12:10 p.m.

French Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon has assailed European austerity policies as he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, arguing that they have helped fuel the far right's rise.

Hamon has met with Merkel and her center-left rival Martin Schulz in Berlin. He followed conservative Francois Fillon and independent Emmanuel Macron in making the trip to France's biggest European partner.

Hamon said after meeting Merkel that they agreed on reinforcing European defense and on energy issues, but differed on economic matters.

He told reporters: "I repeated to her my disagreement with austerity policies, the consequences that they have had on people, the fact that they have produced today social desperation that produces votes for the far right."

France's two-round presidential election will be held April 23 and May 7.

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9:40 a.m.

The wife of French presidential candidate Francois Fillon is facing preliminary charges over well-paid parliamentary jobs that investigators suspect she never performed.

Fillon himself has already been charged in the case, which has deeply damaged the conservative candidate's chances for the two-round election April 23 and May 7. He is suspected of embezzlement and other charges.

Penelope Fillon is expected to face investigating judges Tuesday in Paris who can hand her preliminary charges in the case.

Investigators recently expanded the probe on suspicions that the couple falsified documents after the investigation opened to prove that Penelope carried out parliamentary work for her husband.

The Fillons have denied wrongdoing. Francois Fillon, once the front-runner, calls the investigation a smear campaign to torpedo his presidential campaign.