France vows tough re­sponse as new 'yel­low vest' demos loom

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - INTERNATIONAL -

PARIS, Jan 12 (AFP) - France braced for a fresh round of “yel­low vest” protests across the coun­try on Sat­ur­day, with the au­thor­i­ties vow­ing zero tol­er­ance for vi­o­lence af­ter weekly scenes of ri­ot­ing and van­dal­ism in Paris and other cities over the past two months.

Of­fi­cials have warned they ex­pect this week­end's anti-gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tions to be big­ger and more vi­o­lent than a week ago, as a move­ment which had shown signs of fa­tigue ap­peared to gain new mo­men­tum.

Ar­moured ve­hi­cles and 5,000 of­fi­cers will be de­ployed in Paris, where im­ages of burn­ing cars, smashed shops and day­long clashes be­tween pro­test­ers and po­lice have made global head­lines since Novem­ber.

“Blue-chip com­pa­nies, the me­dia, are all in Paris, we'll be more vis­i­ble,” Ar­naud, a 48-year-old yel­low vest or­gan­iser for the Seine-et-Marne re­gion near the cap­i­tal, told AFP.

Oth­ers have called on pro­test­ers to con­verge on the cen­tral city of Bourges, which could po­ten­tially at­tract more peo­ple from cities farther from Paris.

“I hope that in a city where there's been no in­ci­dents since the start of the move­ment, the mo­bil­i­sa­tion will be strong and peace­ful,” one of the or­gan­is­ers said, ask­ing for anonymity.

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