Yellow vests protest: France may consider imposing emergency to control civil unrest

The authorities were caught off guard in France by the escalation in violence after two weeks of nationwide protests against fuel taxes and living costs, known as the “yellow vest” movement

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

NH Web Desk

France is going to consider imposing a state of emergency to prevent a recurrence of some of the worst civil unrest in more than a decade and urged peaceful protesters to come to the negotiating table, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said on Sunday as reported by the news agency Reuters.

The authorities were caught off guard by the escalation in violence after two weeks of nationwide protests against fuel taxes and living costs, known as the "yellow vest" movement after fluorescent jackets kept in all vehicles in France.

At least 288 people have been arrested and some 100 others injured as protesters took to the streets of Paris against rising fuel prices, clashing with riot police, authorities said.

A police spokesman told CNN that clashes erupted on Saturday after the protesters from the "gilets jaune" or "yellow vest" movement demonstrated against rising gas prices and taxes on polluting forms of transport.

Saturday's protests marked the third consecutive week of such demonstrations, although with an estimated 36,500 participants across the country they were smaller than those in weeks past, according to the French Interior Ministry.

According to BBC, the police fired tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon on the Champs-Elysées, while masked protesters hurled projectiles and set buildings on fire.

At least 110 people were injured, including 17 members of the security forces, and 270 arrests were made.

President Emmanuel Macron says his fuel policies are needed to combat global warming.

As reported by BBC, one person was in a critical condition after protesters pulled down an iron gate at the Tuileries garden near the Louvre museum, which fell on several people.

President Emmanuel Macron will hold an emergency meeting with the prime minister and interior minister later on Sunday to discuss the riots and how to begin a dialogue with the protest movement, which has no real structure or leadership, Reuters reported.

French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux was quoted by Reuters as saying that a state of emergency is one of the options that will be considered during the meeting, “We have to think about the measures that can be taken so that these incidents don’t happen again,” he said.

Last week, about 53,000 participated and there were about 113,000 the week before.

But the protests evolved into a broader demonstration against French President Emmanuel Macron, his government and tensions between the metropolitan elite and rural poor, CNN said.

The violent protests and vandalism in Paris have "absolutely nothing to do with the peaceful demonstrations of a legitimate unhappiness or discontent", Macron told the media on Saturday in Buenos Aires, where he's attending the G20 summit.

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