Published: Thu, December 06, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Paris police brace for violence as more protests are likely

Paris police brace for violence as more protests are likely

French protesters welcome Macron's decision to scrap the fuel tax rise planned for next year, but said it may not be enough to contain public anger.

Mr Macron told cabinet members that some followers of the yellow-vest movement - so-called because of the high-visibility vests worn by protesters - wanted to attack not just his presidency but the entire state apparatus as well.

A group of demonstrators wearing their yellow vest pose on an occupied traffic circle, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 outside La Mede oil refinery, near Martigues, southeastern France.

The protests began on Nov 17 in opposition to rising fuel taxes, but they have ballooned into a broad challenge to Macron's pro-business agenda and complaints that he is out of touch with the struggles of ordinary people.

Across France, four people have been killed in accidents linked to the demonstrations and road blockades, and hundreds injured.

Since returning from the G20 summit in Argentina, Macron has either remained in his palace residence or else shied away from speaking publicly about the protests that have created his biggest political crisis since taking office last May.

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U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to mock Macron over the policy shift, which could make it harder for France to meet its Carbon dioxide emissions reduction target, a core element of the Paris climate agreement of 2015.

And rioting in the streets is what put an end to a new gas-tax proposal in France this week.

The budget can be renegotiated through the year, but given the scale of the recent protests, Macron is unlikely to revive the added fuel tax idea anytime soon.

"What we are asking of you Mr Prime Minister, is not a postponement".

The concessions made by France's prime minister in a bid to stop the huge and violent anti-government demonstrations that have been rocking France over the past three weeks, seem to have so far failed to convince protesters, with trade unions and farmers now threatening to join the fray.

Immediately after coming to power in 2017, Macron pushed through tax cuts for entrepreneurs and high-earners - an "original sin" for his critics. French citizens were already hit with a tax increase in January, and more than 60% of the cost of fuel in France comes from government fees.

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Eric Drouet, another spokesman in the movement, said before the announcement from President Macron, "A tax freeze does not change the living conditions in the immediate future".

And on Wednesday, France's largest farmers union said it will launch protests next week, after trucking unions called for a rolling strike. People angry about the planned tax increase donned the yellow emergency vests all French drivers must have in their cars in case of a breakdown and took to the streets in mid-November.

At Tolbiac University in downtown Paris, students took over a school building and classes were canceled.

Labour unions are also meeting Thursday to weigh their response to the movement, which has billed itself as a grassroots protest unaligned with any political party or union.

However, his policies have angered many French citizens who say he does not care about most of the people.

In a disparaging tweet, U.S. President Donald Trump claimed that Macron's decision Tuesday to delay the gas tax hike showed that the French leader doesn't believe in the 2015 Paris global climate accord.

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