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French communist presidential candidate Roussel hits back at fake jobs

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French Communist Party presidential candidate Fabien Roussel hit back on Monday after allegations he was paid from public funds for five years for fictitious work.

Investigative news site Mediapart on Sunday questioned the veracity of Roussel’s employment as a parliamentary assistant from 2009 to 2014, saying the former communist journalist did not work in the constituency office of the MP for National Assembly Jean-Jacques Candelier in northern France and citing associates of the deputy who could not describe any work Roussel had done in the role.

Mediapart said Roussel had not provided any documents, emails or text messages proving he had completed the work under Candelier despite repeated requests in the 10 days before the muckraking site published the story on Sunday.

On Monday, the communist candidate said he had “the documents” that will show he did the job. “I worked for five years with Candelier, with the colleagues I had by his side. They and Jean-Jacques can testify to the work we have done together,” Roussel told Europe 1 about his time with the company. former Member of the National Assembly.

“I was with him, and without him, to keep an eye on the conflict in the Douai region, his region,” Roussel reacted to the accusations on Monday. “I have the working documents that I put together with him on these subjects, with the trade unionists,” he continued. “I’ll show them.”

French presidential election ©France 24

Candelier, for his part, said he was “surprised and indignant” at Mediapart’s allegations, describing Roussel as “a valuable and effective collaborator, on the ground, in permanent contact with a number of union players, elected officials and residents. “. , with “a very detailed knowledge of the economic and social situation” and “close links with many players in the territory”.

Roussel is the first candidate from the French Communist Party to join the race for the French presidency since 2007. The communist gathered the necessary 500 sponsorships from electoral officials across the country well before the scheduled date and applied to participate in the official presidential ballot. this weekend, he said. .

Campaigning on the promise of “happy days for France”, Roussel is also one of the few left-wing presidential candidates to have something to smile about in the polls ahead of the April 10 first round of elections. Roussel’s party linked the accusations made by Mediapart to its relative momentum in the race.

French Communist Party spokeswoman Cécile Cukierman noted that “today the law does not define a standard job description, the traceability of the work of parliamentary assistants”. She added that Roussel’s “choice” not to respond to Mediapart’s requests “does not make him guilty”.

“Would we be talking about it as much if it had remained at 1.5% in the polls?” Cukierman asked Agence France Presse. Roussel is polled at 5%, even with Greens candidate Yannick Jadot and ahead of Socialist Party candidate Anne Hidalgo (3%), in a poll published Friday by the firm Opinionway.

“Only a month and a half before the first round, something like this comes out, I say to myself ‘it’s the game'”, Roussel told Europe 1 on Monday.

“They did their investigation by questioning people who are at war with me. I don’t just have friends, that’s normal… But I have dozens of people who could say what we did together, the battles that we even won together with Candelier,” insisted Roussel.

The communist disputed details of the Mediapart story, including his alleged €3,000 salary. “I started at €2,460 net, I finished at €2,700,” he said.

Fake jobs were a notorious watchword of the previous French presidential race. The 2017 campaign was rocked by a fake jobs scandal after revelations published by the muckraking weekly Le Canard Enchaîné about Conservative candidate François Fillon and his wife, Penelope. Once tipped to win the race, Fillon ultimately did not reach the second round, behind centrist newcomer Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Fillon, a former prime minister, was later found guilty alongside his wife and given a five-year sentence. A verdict on Fillon’s appeal is expected in May.

(With AFP)