Yellow vests protest: Macron to hold crisis meeting over protests  

French President Emmanuel Macron, who will also meet political leaders and local officials, wants to hold talks with business leaders and trade unions to hear their proposals

Photo by Chesnot/Getty Image
Photo by Chesnot/Getty Image
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NH Web Desk

French President Emmanuel Macron will hold talks with business leaders and trade unions on Monday, December 10, after a fourth weekend of the violent "gilets jaunes," or "yellow vest" nationwide protests that have challenged his grip on power.

Macron, who will also meet political leaders and local officials, wants to "hear their voices, their proposals and with the aim of mobilising them to act", CNN quoted a spokeswoman for the Elysee Palace as saying on Sunday.

Le Figaro newspaper said that Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and nine government ministers will also be present at Macron's meeting.

The meetings will come ahead of Macron's address to the nation which is expected to centre around national unity.

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

Macron is anticipated to urge the "gilets jaunes," or "yellow vest" protesters to seek dialogue after a weekend in which 1,723 people were taken in for questioning and 1,220 were taken into custody, according to the Interior Ministry.

Across the country, 135 people were reported injured.

Macron is facing criticism with demonstrators marching against the rise of living costs, the scrapping of the "fortune tax" and accusations that the former banker has done little to address the inequality in French society. President Emmanuel Macron says his fuel policies are needed to combat global warming.

Further pressure grew over the weekend with police firing rubber bullets and hundreds of canisters of tear gas at the demonstrators, some of whom set vehicles on fire during Saturday, December 8's protests.

The protests, which have stretched as far and wide as the southern cities of Marseille and Toulouse, brought out 136,000 people across the country on Saturday, police said.

About 8,000 police were on the streets of Paris and tens of thousands more deployed across the country.

Paris landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre have been closed to the public, some metro stations were shut and sporting events across the country have been called off, CNN said.

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

Originally a grassroots movement, the "gilets jaunes" first emerged online with Facebook events set up by citizens mostly from deprived rural areas.

They began by coordinating road blockades across France to protest the fuel tax hike but the protests have since mushroomed into a broader demonstration of anger against Macron.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

The violent protests and vandalism in Paris have "absolutely nothing to do with the peaceful demonstrations of a legitimate unhappiness or discontent", said Macron on Saturday, December 1, in Buenos Aires, where he's attending the G20 summit.

An opinion poll on Friday suggested a dip in support for the protests, but it still stood at 66%. Meanwhile, President Macron's ratings have fallen to 23% amid the crisis, polls suggest.

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