France: Thousands of ’Yellow Vests’ Hit French Streets in 5th Week of Protests
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of French cities on Saturday in the fifth weekend of nationwide demonstrations against French President Emmanuel Macron’s government, despite calls to hold off after a gun attack in Strasbourg earlier this week.
In Paris, police were out in force to contain possible outbursts of violence.
Numbers were down compared to Saturday last week, a police source said.
Teargas was fired at small groups of protesters in brief clashes with riot police near the Champs-Elysees.
The ‘yellow vest’ movement started in mid-November with protests at junctions and roundabouts against fuel tax increases, but quickly became a wider mobilization against Macron’s economic policies.
Successive weekends of protests in Paris have led to vandalism and violent clashes with security forces.
The Interior Minister said around 69,000 police were active on Saturday with a reinforced presence in the cities of Toulouse, Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne.
A police source told Reuters some 16,000 protesters had been counted in France, excluding Paris, by 1100 GMT, compared to 22,000 at the same time on Dec. 8.
In Paris, where groups of hundreds of protesters marched in splintered groups in several neighborhoods, 85 had been arrested by around midday, according to a Paris police official.
On Friday, Macron called for a return to calm in France after nearly a month of protests by the so-called ‘yellow vest’ movement against his government’s policies. The demonstrations have hit growth and caused widespread disruption.
“France needs calm, order and a return to normal,” Macron said, after a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels.
In a televised address to the nation earlier on Monday, Macron announced wage rises for the poorest workers and tax cuts for pensioners in further concessions meant to end the movement but many said they would maintain pressure.
The French government, as well as several unions and opposition politicians called on protesters to stay off the streets on Saturday, after four people were killed in a gun attack at a Christmas market in the historic city of Strasbourg.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team