Sunday, 16 December, 2018

France abandons petrol tax rises after deadly protests

The Latest Macron visits building torched by protesters Paris riots continue despite fuel tax delay
Orlando Vargas | 06 December, 2018, 13:29

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.

Earlier on Tuesday, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on live TV that the planned increases in gasoline and diesel taxes as well as hikes in gas and electricity tariffs will be suspended for six months. Its withdrawal is both a blow to broader efforts to fight climate change and a warning to other world leaders trying to do the same thing.

He added that "no tax should endanger national unity" and the "violence must stop".

But demonstrations continued around the country.

One activist said Wednesday that he fears more deaths if Saturday's "yellow vest" demonstration in Paris goes ahead, and urged Macron to speak out and bring calm to the nation.

Protests across France began on November 17 over the fuel tax -the first trigger for the protests. They put up a sign by the side of the road reading "Macron dictator".

In the port city of Marseille, students clashed with police outside a high school - one of about 100 high schools around France that were blocked or otherwise disrupted by student protests, according to the Education Ministry.

Numerous demonstrations were over a new university application system.

Jogging through one of the poshest districts of Paris last weekend, 33-year-old Belgian Augustin Terlinden suddenly found himself face-to-face with a auto going up in flames.

Since then, the "yellow vest" protests have developed into a movement against Macron.

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Last weekend, more than 130 people were injured and 412 arrested in the French capital. Shops were looted and cars torched in plush neighbourhoods around the famed Champs-Elysees Avenue.

But they may now be delayed until later in the month or February, Guillaume said.

She said each of the disparate protesting groups will decide what to do next, but many will probably keep demonstrating.

President Emmanuel Macron faces a crucial few days as he seeks an end to more than two weeks of protests which degenerated on Saturday into some of the worst violence in central Paris in decades. However, two protesters who claim to lead the group, Benjamin Cauchy and Jacqueline Moreau, have pulled out of a meeting with Prime Minister Philippe planned for Tuesday, according to the movement's spokesman, Maxime Nicole.

"No specific day has been set, it's for the week", Christiane Lambert said of the farmer protests.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner urged "responsible" protesters not to descend on Paris, but has nonetheless called in police reinforcements in case of more violence.

After the momentous May 1968 protests which rocked French society - and left several dead - the government raised the minimum wage by a third.

She accused the government of "agri-bashing" by imposing new regulations such as requiring farmers to declare when they use glyphosate, a weed killer suspected by some scientists of causing cancer.

When those consumers feel the pain, they take to the streets-more reliably in response to higher fuel or food prices than perhaps any other influence.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen tweeted that the delay in price rises was "obviously not up to the expectations of the French people struggling with precariousness", and noted sarcastically that it is "surely a coincidence" that the price hikes will now come into effect a few days after European Union elections.

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