Saturday, 20 April, 2019

All eyes on Macron after fresh yellow vest protests hit Paris

Eiffel Tower to close as France fears more riots French troops deployed in Paris amid ‘yellow vest’ protest
Leonard Rios | 09 December, 2018, 14:12

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said he expected "only a few thousand people" to descend on Paris after the 8,000 protesters counted last weekend, "but among them are ultraviolent individuals".

By mid-afternoon Saturday, police arrested more than 1,000 people nationwide and held 720 in custody, with 135, including security personnel, injured.

French "yellow vest" demonstrators clashed with riot police in Paris on Saturday in the latest round of protests against President Emmanuel Macron, but the city appeared to be escaping the large-scale destruction of a week earlier due to heavy security.

Belgian police fired tear gas and water cannon Saturday at yellow-vested protesters calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Charles Michel after they tried to breach a riot barricade.

Yesterday there were clashes in Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Toulouse and elsewhere as around 125,000 anti-government protestors took to the streets yesterday.

Last weekend Trump also cited the protests in France to defend his decision to pull the USA out of the climate agreement reached in December 2015.

Underground stations in the city centre also closed and the United States embassy warned its citizens to avoid all protest areas.

Air pollution alone is now estimated to kill as many as nine million people every year.

So far, the protests were mostly on and near the landmark Avenue des Champs-Elysees, with about 1,500 protesters, according to France Info radio.

Macron, who said that the hike was necessary to tackle the threat of climate change, has drawn huge criticisms from the protestors, who believe that the French President has been enacting policies in favour of the country's richest section of society.

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After being taken by surprise by the scale of last weekend's violence, Paris prepared by closing many museums, asking shops on the Champs-Elysees to shutter, and postponing yesterday's Paris Saint-Germain-Montpellier football match.

A protester wearing a yellow vest attends a demonstration during a national day of protest by the "yellow vests" movement in Paris, France, December 8, 2018.

The protesters began blocking roads, fuel depots and shopping centres around France on November 17 over soaring petrol prices that have hit people in the provinces who get around by vehicle.

Now the movement is making other demands, such as taxing the rich and raising the minimum wage.

But the "yellow vests", some of whom who have become increasingly radicalised, are holding out for more.

A firefighters stands in front of vehicles set on fire during a protest of Yellow vest (Gilets Jaunes) against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes on December 8, 2018 on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris.

Macron had previously vowed to stay the course in his bid to shake up the French economy and not be swayed by mass protests that have forced previous presidents to back down.

Arguing that such a move was necessary in order to boost investment and create jobs, the former investment banker has so far ruled out re-imposing the "fortune tax".

Protests at dozens of schools over university reforms, and a call by farmers for demonstrations next week, have added to a sense of general revolt in France.

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