US President Donald Trump waded into France’s presidential election on Friday, saying that he expected the deadly attack in Paris would have an impact on France’s upcoming presidential vote.
“Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!” he said, breaking a silence over Sunday’s vote in a tweet.
Trump tweeted hours after a gunman shot dead a French policeman and wounded two others on the world-famous Champs Elysees Boulevard. ISIS claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting.
The attack rocked France’s presidential race Friday with just days to go before one of the closest races in recent memory.
Bloodshed had long been feared ahead of Sunday’s first round of voting after a string of jihadist atrocities targeting the county. France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of alert since a string of terror attacks that began in 2015, which have killed more than 230 people.
Three of the four presidential frontrunners — far-right leader Marine Le Pen, centrist Emmanuel Macron and conservative Francois Fillon — called off campaign events planned for Friday in the wake of the attack.
The attack prompted Marine Le Pen to say on Friday that France should reinstate border checks and expel foreigners who are on the watch lists of intelligence services.
Le Pen, who has campaigned on an anti-European Union, anti-immigration platform, was the only major French candidate who backed Republican Trump in the Nov. 8 US presidential election.
Trump ran for the White House on a pledge to get tough on immigration and his administration has imposed restrictions including a controversial ban, stalled in US courts, on travelers from Muslim majority nations.
On Thursday, former US President Barack Obama spoke with a different French candidate, Macron, a pro-EU centrist.
Macron is leading most opinion polls for the election’s first round on Sunday and is expected to contest a second-round run-off with Le Pen. Obama’s spokesman said the former US president, who is popular in France, was not making a formal endorsement.
Meanwhile, Macron has called on the French people not to succumb to fear, division and intimidation.
One day after the shootings of police officers in Paris and just two days before the first round of the presidential election, Macron said in a video posted online: “the terrorist’s will is to destabilize the country”.
“In such circumstances, the role of the president of the Republic as the army chief and guardian of our institutions is to protect the French. I am ready,” he said.
Macron recalled a series of security measures listed in his campaign platform: boost police and military forces and intelligence services and pursue France’s military operations against the ISIS group in Iraq and Syria.
Also, Fillon has pledged to keep the country under a state of emergency following the shooting of police officers Thursday in Paris.
In a statement at his campaign headquarters, Fillon said “the fight for the French people’s freedom and security will be mine. This must be the priority” of the next president.
Fillon promised to boost police and military forces.
He also said that, if elected, he would launch a “diplomatic initiative” aiming to create an international collaboration against extremists that would include all major actors, including the United States, the European Union, Russia, Iran, Turkey and the Gulf countries.
Fillon hopes his experience as prime minister from 2007 to 2012 and hardline views on security issues will give his campaign a boost, just two days before the first round of the vote.