‘France not to accept any foreign meddling in presidential election’

Paris, Feb 16 (IANS) French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Wednesday warned Russia or any other state not to interfere in its upcoming presidential election after allegations that Russian hackers have been targeting presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron.

“We will not accept any interference whatsoever in our electoral process, no more from Russia, by the way, than from any other state. This is a question of our democracy, our sovereignty, our national independence,” Xinhua news agency quoted Ayrault as saying to lawmakers.

The French top diplomat warned that the country would take “retaliatory measures when that is necessary, because no foreign state can influence the choice of the French, no foreign state can choose the future President of the Republic”.

“After what’s happened in the United States, it’s our responsibility to take all the measures so that integrity of our democratic process will be fully respected,” Ayrault added.

French defence chiefs will meet on February 23 to discuss cyber security and implement “specific vigilance and protection measures” during the election campaign after allegations that Russian hackers have attacked presidential candidate Macron who pleaded for stronger European front to face Moscow.

On Tuesday, Richard Ferrand, Macron’s party chief accused Russia-based hackers of attacking databases and e-mail servers of the candidate’s party.

Russia called these accusations as “absurd”, according to media reports.

Moscow was accused of hacking US Democratic Party and campaign staff e-mail and spreading fake news to influence the November 8 election in which Republican Donald Trump, who wants to reset relations with Russia, was elected the 45th President of the United States.