Protests continuing despite tax U-turn
FRENCH GOVERNMENT RELENTS
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