The Latest: Melenchon is in 7 places at once, with hologram

AP News
Posted: Apr 18, 2017 3:11 PM
The Latest: Melenchon is in 7 places at once, with hologram

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the upcoming French presidential election (all times local):

9:05 p.m.

French far-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon is on stage along with six holograms that enable him to hold seven simultaneous rallies across France.

The 65-year-old is holding a rally in Dijon, in eastern France, while his image is projected by satellite to crowds in six other cities, including one on the island of La Reunion.

Melenchon suggested his three main rivals — conservative Francois Fillon, far-right Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron — were potential targets after the arrest of two suspected radicals who were allegedly preparing a terror attack in France. He expressed his solidarity toward them.

"We will never make the gift to criminals to divide in front of them. We are not afraid", he told the crowd.

Melenchon has risen in polls ahead of the first round of France's presidential election on April 23, with some pollsters saying he has a chance of reaching the May 7 presidential runoff.

He leads a far-left alliance that includes the Communist Party.


7:45 p.m.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy has expressed his support for conservative candidate Francois Fillon ahead of Sunday's first round of the French presidential election.

Sarkozy said in a video posted on his Facebook and Twitter accounts that Fillon "has the experience, the will, the project that will enable France to ensure a political change after the five disastrous years we have known."

Sarkozy, who lost to Fillon in the conservative primary in November, is calling on voters to unite behind his former rival.

"I worked five years with Francois Fillon, he was my prime minister, I know we can trust him", he said.

Fillon's campaign has been damaged by accusations that he misused taxpayer money to pay his wife and children for government jobs that they allegedly did not perform.

French investigators are probing the case. Fillon denies wrongdoing.

Latest polls suggest he is one of the four candidates who have a chance to be among the two top Sunday and advance to the runoff on May 7.


6:20 p.m.

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has pointed to "a devastating multiplication of attacks and threats of attacks" in France, after the arrest of two suspected radicals planning an attack.

She said in a written statement that this is the result of "Islamic fundamentalism" that "has expanded exponentially" in the last decade in France.

She said that "it's time to put back France in order," using one of her campaign's mantras.

Le Pen, who is campaigning on anti-immigration, anti- European themes, is among the four top contenders for the presidential race.

The top two candidates in Sunday's vote advance to a May 7 runoff.


3:10 p.m.

Top presidential contenders Emmanuel Macron and Francois Fillon have offered congratulations to French police after the arrest of two suspected radicals who were allegedly preparing a terror attack in France.

Macron, an independent centrist considered one of the front-runners of the vote, said in a written statement: "This event serves as reminders that the terrorist threat is still very high on our territory."

Macron recalled he has pledged to pursue military intervention in Iraq and Syria, boost intelligence services and fight against terrorism on the internet.

Conservative candidate Fillon said "democracy must not get on its knees in front of the threats and intimidations from terrorists. The campaign must continue until the end."


12:55 p.m.

The French interior minister says police have arrested two suspected radicals who were allegedly preparing an "imminent" terror attack in France as it prepares to vote Sunday in the first round of its presidential election.

The minister, Matthias Fekl, said at a brief news conference that the arrests took place in the southern city of Marseille.

He said those arrested were suspected of preparing an attack in the coming days.


11:30 a.m.

French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron says he will simplify the country's famously complex labor laws within weeks of taking office.

In comments at the Rungis wholesale market outside Paris, Macron says that it's not a question of taking rights away from workers, but of lowering the 10-percent unemployment rate that has plagued France for years.

Macron, who has never held elected office, is running without the backing of an established party and claims to be neither of the right nor the left.

The pre-dawn market is a regular campaign stop for French politicians looking to show solidarity with workers, who rise before the sun to feed the Paris region.


10:55 a.m.

French far right candidate Marine Le Pen is promising a freeze on long-term visas as soon as she takes office, followed by a tax on any company that hires foreign workers.

Ahead of Sunday's first-round election, Le Pen told RTL radio on Tuesday she would issue an order to immediately stop issuing long-term visas for two weeks so the government can verify that they are not taking jobs away from French citizens.

Le Pen, who has campaigned against immigration and Europe's open borders, also wants to impose a 10 percent tax on labor contracts that go to foreigners and seize back control of French borders.

Polls show Le Pen is among four leading French candidates, with no clear front-runner. The top two candidates advance to a May 7 runoff.