Eiffel Tower to shut as France fears more ri­ots

Rotorua Daily Post - - World - France

Au­thor­i­ties across France braced yes­ter­day for the pos­si­bil­ity of more ri­ots and vi­o­lence at antigov­ern­ment protests this week­end, hold­ing emer­gency meet­ings and de­ploy­ing tens of thou­sands of po­lice and se­cu­rity forces.

Mu­se­ums, the­atres and shops in Paris an­nounced they would close to­mor­row as a pre­cau­tion — in­clud­ing the Eiffel Tower.

Po­lice unions and city au­thor­i­ties met to strate­gise on how to han­dle the day’s protests, which were be­ing held even though French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron ear­lier can­celled a fuel tax hike that had un­leashed weeks of un­rest.

On the other side of France's volatile so­cial de­bate, dis­parate groups of pro­test­ers did the same thing, shar­ing their week­end plans on so­cial net­works and chat groups.

Prime Min­is­ter Edouard Philippe told sen­a­tors yes­ter­day that the Gov­ern­ment would de­ploy “ex­cep­tional” se­cu­rity mea­sures for the protests in Paris and else­where.

On TF1 tele­vi­sion, Philippe said 89,000 po­lice of­fi­cers would be de­ployed across France to­mor­row — up from 65,000 last week­end.

In Paris alone, 8000 po­lice of­fi­cers will be mo­bilised. They will be equipped with a dozen ar­moured ve­hi­cles — a first in a French ur­ban area since 2005.

Some “yel­low vest” pro­test­ers, French union of­fi­cials and prom­i­nent politi­cians across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum yes­ter­day called for calm af­ter the worst ri­ot­ing in Paris in decades last week­end.

Macron agreed to aban­don the fuel tax hike, part of his plans to com­bat global warm­ing, but pro­test­ers' de­mands have now ex­panded to other is­sues hurt­ing French work­ers, re­tirees and stu­dents. And in a move ques­tioned by both crit­ics and sup­port­ers, the pres­i­dent him­self has dis­ap­peared from pub­lic view.

The prime min­is­ter re­it­er­ated the Gov­ern­ment's plan to scrap a fuel tax rise planned by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment be­cause of the “ex­treme ten­sions”.

“No tax de­serves to put civil peace in dan­ger,” Philippe said.

The Paris ri­ot­ing has wor­ried tourists, forc­ing the can­cel­la­tion of four French league soc­cer matches this week­end and dam­aged the lo­cal econ­omy at the height of the hol­i­day shop­ping sea­son.

Ram­pag­ing groups last week­end threw cob­ble­stones through Paris store­fronts and looted valu­ables in some of the city's rich­est neigh­bour­hoods.

PHOTO / AP

A demon­stra­tor throws de­bris at a burn­ing bar­ri­cade while protest­ing against ris­ing fuel taxes on the famed Champs El­y­sees av­enue, in Paris.

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