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What happened today in France's presidential race

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Paris (AFP)

With 27 days to go before the first round of France's presidential election, outgoing President Francois Hollande said he still has work to do -- to help ward off a victory for far-right leader Marine Le Pen

Here are three things that happened in the campaign on Monday:

- 'Populism can't prevail' -

Hollande, visiting Singapore, said his final mission before he steps down in May would be to ensure that "populism, nationalism and extremism cannot prevail, including in my own country".

The National Front's Marine Le Pen is seen as one of the leading candidates to replace him in the election, which follows Britain's vote to leave the European Union and the election of the populist Donald Trump in the United States.

- Don't spy on me: Le Pen -

Le Pen charged that the Hollande government is spying on her campaign, echoing allegations by her conservative rival Francois Fillon.

"I'm not naive, I know that the government has used (wiretaps) for many decades," Le Pen said, adding: "It must stop."

Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas said the wiretapping allegations were "as far-fetched as they were odd", noting that only an investigating magistrate can order wiretaps, citing a 2013 law.

- Fillon urges transparency panel -

The scandal-plagued Fillon told the anti-corruption group Transparency International that he would set up a commission on "transparency and morality in public life" if elected.

The Berlin-based group responded in a tweet that a similar initiative was presented to Fillon's cabinet in 2011 when he was prime minister but it never made it to the floor of parliament.

Fillon, who has been charged with misuse of public funds in a fake jobs scandal involving his wife Penelope, was the only one of the 11 candidates for president who missed a deadline last week to outline proposals for good governance to Transparency.

Penelope Fillon is expected to learn Tuesday whether she too will face charges that she was paid with taxpayers' money for fictitious jobs as her husband's parliamentary assistant.

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