Protests con­tin­u­ing de­spite tax U-turn


Warwickshire Telegraph - - WORLD -

THE French gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to sus­pend fuel tax and util­ity hikes has done lit­tle to ap­pease pro­test­ers who vowed to fight on af­ter ri­ot­ing in Paris last week­end.

In a ma­jor U-turn for the gov­ern­ment, Prime Min­is­ter Edouard Philippe an­nounced in a live tele­vised ad­dress that the planned in­creases, which were set to be in­tro­duced in Jan­uary, would be post­poned un­til the sum­mer.

The backpedalling by Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron’s gov­ern­ment ap­peared de­signed to calm the na­tion, com­ing three days af­ter the worst un­rest on the streets of Paris in decades.

“No tax is worth putting the na­tion’s unity in dan­ger,” Mr Philippe said, just three weeks af­ter in­sist­ing that the gov­ern­ment would not change course in its de­ter­mi­na­tion to wean French con­sumers off fos­sil fu­els.

But demon­stra­tions con­tin­ued around the coun­try yes­ter­day.

Pro­test­ers – wear­ing their sig­na­ture flu­o­res­cent yel­low vests – kept block­ing sev­eral fuel de­pots and, on a high­way near the south­ern city of Aubagne, oth­ers took over a toll booth to let ve­hi­cles pass for free. They put up a sign by the side of the road read­ing “Macron dic­ta­tor”.

“It’s a first step, but we will not set­tle for a crumb,” said Ben­jamin Cauchy, a protest leader.

In the nearby port city of Mar­seille, protest­ing stu­dents clashed with po­lice out­side a high school.

A demon­stra­tor holds a plac­ard read­ing “Free Toll” as they open the toll gates on a mo­tor­way

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