Vi­o­lence scars France’s pre-elec­tion May Day marches

New Straits Times - - World -

DON­ALD TRUMP, US pres­i­dent PARIS: Tra­di­tional May 1 union marches turned vi­o­lent in France on Mon­day and pres­i­den­tial elec­tion front-run­ner Em­manuel Macron at­tacked far-right ri­val Marine Le Pen, high­light­ing the di­vi­sions six days be­fore the runoff.

Six po­lice of­fi­cers were hurt in clashes here be­tween masked youth throw­ing Molo­tov cock­tails and riot po­lice, who re­sponded with tear gas, as tens of thou­sands of union ac­tivists took to the streets for May Day demon­stra­tions.

One riot po­lice of­fi­cer was en­gulfed in flames.

In­te­rior Min­is­ter Matthias Fekl con­demned the vi­o­lence and said one of­fi­cer was se­ri­ously burned on the hand, while another had se­ri­ous burns to the face, with­out say­ing which was the of­fi­cer.

Re­act­ing to the scenes, Le Pen tweeted: “This is the sort of mess... that I no longer want to see on our streets.”

In a feisty speech, Macron told thou­sands of his sup­port­ers he would de­fend “free democ­racy” if vot­ers choose him on Sun­day af­ter Le Pen had urged vot­ers to re­ject “the world of fi­nance, of ar­ro­gance, of money as king” she said her op­po­nent em­bod­ied.

The tra­di­tional union-led marches un­der­lined the con­spic­u­ous ab­sence of the united front shown in 2002, when Le Pen’s fa­ther, Jean-Marie, shocked the coun­try by reach­ing the run-off.

On this day 15 years ago, some 1.3 mil­lion peo­ple, in­clud­ing 400,000 here, took to the streets of France in union-led demon­stra­tions to protest against the founder of the Na­tional Front.

That show of force, cou­pled with a po­lit­i­cal clos­ing of ranks, helped the cen­tre-right’s Jac­ques Chirac in­flict a crush­ing de­feat on Le Pen se­nior.

This time, with left-wing can­di­dates elim­i­nated in the first round, the left is deeply di­vided over the choice be­tween Le Pen’s 48-year-old daugh­ter and Macron, a 39-year-old for­mer in­vest­ment banker. AFP

AFP PIC

Protesters push­ing a burn­ing trol­ley to­wards anti-riot po­lice­men dur­ing a May Day work­ers’ rally in Paris on Mon­day.

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