Top French party officials 'unanimously back' Fillon candidacy

Francois Fillon, former French prime minister, member of the Republicans political party and 2017 presidential election candidate of the French centre-right reacts after delivering a speech in front of small business leaders in Puteaux, France, March 6, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - An emergency meeting of the French conservative party's leadership unanimously backed Francois Fillon as candidate for the presidential election, Senate leader Gerard Larcher said, 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.

Former French prime minister Alain Juppe had earlier on Monday ruled out replacing scandal-hit Fillon in the coming presidential election but offered no alternative candidates.

(Reporting by Sophie Louet; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Adrian Croft)