Trump mocks Macron again over French fuel tax protests

REUTERS  Regis Duvignau

REUTERS Regis Duvignau

Thousands of protesters wearing yellow vests have been gathering in major French cities, including Paris, since November 17 to protest President Emmanuel Macron's controversial fuel tax hikes and the deteriorating economic situation in France.

On the other side of France's volatile social debate, disparate groups of protesters did the same thing, sharing their weekend plans on social networks and chat groups.

Even units not accustomed to carrying out everyday police work, such as the SDLII, which fights illegal immigration, will have 500 officers on the ground.

Earlier this week, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe made a decision to suspend planned increases to fuel taxes for at least six months in response to weeks of sometimes violent protests, marking the first major U-turn by Macron's administration in 18 months in office.

The protest is still planned for Saturday, despite French President Emmanuel Macron agreeing to kill the planned fuel tax increase that sparked the demonstrations three weeks ago. And in a move questioned by both critics and supporters, the president himself has disappeared from public view.

Speaking Thursday to lawmakers, the France's prime minister Edouard Philippe said the government is taking "all measures necessary" to secure the protests.

Philippe said the state would do all it could to maintain order.

The rioting in Paris has anxious tourists and damaged the local economy at the height of the holiday shopping season.

The city is still encouraging tourists and Christmas shoppers to visit Paris.

The Eiffel Tower, museums and shops will be closed Saturday and at least four first-division football matches have been canceled.

Some museums in Paris have also said they will be closed.

Two truck driver unions called an indefinite sympathy strike from Sunday night, and students are blocking dozens of schools nationwide to denounce tougher university entrance requirements.

Last Saturday, the worst rioting in Paris in decades broke out, with rioters burning cars and looting stores on Paris' famed Champs-Elysees boulevard. In the last few days, Paris saw the worst anti-government riot since 1968, French students set fires outside high schools to protest a new university application system, small business owners blocked roads to protest high taxes, and retirees marched to protest the president's perceived elitism.

Wearing their signature yellow vests, demonstrators were back at toll booths on Wednesday to express their demands, ranging from income and pension rises to the dissolution of the national assembly.

Across the country, some 89,000 police will be mobilised, up from 65,000 last weekend, when the country was rocked by daylong scenes of urban unrest in Paris.

But many "yellow vests" have continued to call for more protests next weekend and the survey suggests a majority think his concessions do not go far enough.

Tickets bought online will be refunded, the company operating the Paris monument said on Twitter Thursday.

Analysts say that by sidelining trade unions and centralising power in the presidential palace, Macron has left himself singularly exposed to voters' anger.

Seeking to regain the initiative after weeks of civil unrest, the government appeared ready to offer concessions.

Griveaux said the wealth tax reform had not been "a gift to the rich" and was aimed at encouraging wealthy individuals to invest more in France.

The "yellow vest" movement - so-called because of the high-vis jackets worn by protesters - began with the aim of highlighting the squeeze on household budgets caused by fuel taxes but morphed into a broader, sometimes-violent rebellion against 40-year-old Macron.

Latest News