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France in state of 'civil war' according to right-wing candidate Fillon
Right-wing presidential candidate François Fillon has accused the Socialist government of fomenting a "civil war" in France, and of being "passive" in the face of recent unrest.
Fillon, the conservative candidate whose campaign has been undermined by an on-going fraud investigation, had harsh words for the ruling Socialist party.
At a rally in Meaux on Monday, Fillon criticised the Socialist government's "passive response" to recent protests throughout France, some of which turned violent.
The most recent protests occured on Saturday and Sunday, when thousands of people gathered in Nantes to protest far-right National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen, who held a rally there at the weekend.
Clashes between protestors and police resulted in the injuries of roughly a dozen officers, as reported by French daily Le Monde. Multiple arrests were made and property damage was reported in the area.
"What happened in Nantes this weekend is unacceptable," Fillon said at Monday's rally.
He added that it was Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve's "responsibility to ensure that the presidential election goes as smoothly as possible."
France's 'civil war'
The day before his rally in Meaux, Fillon accused the Socialist government of "allowing a climate of near civil war to develop" in France.
Fillon pointed to the recent disruption of centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron's rally in Toulon, and other protests in the Paris region against police brutality, to make his claim that the government has been "passive" in regards to public safety.
He also said that his rallies are regularly disrupted by far-left activists.
"I solemnly accuse the prime minister and the government of failing to create the conditions for the peaceful exercise of democracy," he wrote in a statement on Sunday.
The prime minister responded that Fillon's comments were "regrettable".
"In politics, especially when campaigning, you need a certain dignity, a high-mindedness and respect for the truth," Cazneuve said on Monday.
Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas also responded on Monday to Fillon's comments by questioning his choice of words: "'Civil war', really?"
Urvoas critiqued another past statement of Fillon, in which the candidate claimed he was a victim of an "institutional coup d'état".
"What will he say next?" asked Urvoas on Monday. "'Platform extermination'? 'Candidate Holocaust'?"
'Fake job' investigation
Fillon faces allegations that his wife was paid hundreds of thousands of euros, over more than a decade, for a "fake job" as parliamentary assistant.
This means that she would have been paid for work that she did not do.
Fillon has denied the allegations, and has accused the media and the Socialist government of spearheading a smear campaign against him.
The investigation is ongoing.