Tear gas as new ‘yel­low vest’ demo hits Paris

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - WORLD -

Po­lice fired tear gas and ar­rested hun­dreds of peo­ple in Paris as the French cap­i­tal went on lock­down for the lat­est “yel­low vest” protests against Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron.

Shouts of “Macron, re­sign” min­gled with the tear gas near the fa­mous Champs-el­y­sees av­enue, the scene last Satur­day of the worst ri­ot­ing in Paris for decades.

A forklift truck driver who gave his name as Denis said he was plan­ning, like others, to march on Macron’s pres­i­den­tial palace in anger against a leader “who only looks out for the rich”.

“I’m here for my son,” said the 30-year-old, who trav­elled down to Paris from the Nor­mandy port of Caen.

“I can’t let him live in a coun­try where the poor are ex­ploited.”

The protests be­gan on Novem­ber 17 with road block­ades against ris­ing fuel prices but have since bal­looned into a mass move­ment against Macron’s poli­cies and top-down style of gov­ern­ing.

Co­or­di­nated “yel­low vest” protests were tak­ing place across the coun­try, in­clud­ing on nu­mer­ous mo­tor­ways, caus­ing havoc on the na­tional road net­work.

Shaken Macron

Prime Min­is­ter Edouard Philippe said more than 700 peo­ple had been de­tained in Paris as po­lice car­ried out checks on peo­ple ar­riv­ing at train sta­tions and at protest hotspots such as the Champs-el­y­sees and Bastille mon­u­ment.

Among them were dozens ar­rested for car­ry­ing masks, ham­mers, sling­shots and rocks.

Shops, mu­se­ums, the Eif­fel Tower and metro sta­tions were closed, while top-flight foot­ball matches and con­certs were can­celled.

Last week­end’s vi­o­lence, which saw 200 cars torched and the Arc de Tri­om­phe van­dalised, shook France and plunged Macron’s govern­ment into its deep­est cri­sis so far.

“These past three weeks have pro­duced a mon­ster that its cre­ators no longer con­trol,” In­te­rior Min­is­ter Cas­taner said, vow­ing “zero tol­er­ance” to­wards those aim­ing to wreak fur­ther de­struc­tion.

Philippe on Fri­day evening met a del­e­ga­tion of self-de­scribed “mod­er­ate” yel­low vests who urged peo­ple not to join the protests.

A spokesman from the move­ment, Christophe Cha­len­con, said Philippe had “lis­tened to us and promised to take our de­mands to the pres­i­dent”.

“Now we await Macron. I hope he will speak to the peo­ple of France as a fa­ther, with love and re­spect and he will take strong de­ci­sions,” he said.

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