France halts hike in fuel tax amid protests
After more than two weeks of protests that have led to blocked roads, torched cars, looting and chaos in some of Paris' wealthiest neighborhoods, France's prime minister on Tuesday suspended a fuel-tax hike that triggered the demonstrations.
Edouard Philippe temporarily called off plans to increase a diesel tax. The move, announced live on TV, is aimed at easing tensions after more than 100 people were injured and 400 arrested in Paris over the weekend amid "Yellow Jacket" protests.
At least three people have died since the unrest started on Nov. 17 and the Arc de Triomphe, one of France's most revered landmarks, was damaged last weekend
Philippe said the suspension of a new tax on fuel would last for six months and that planned increases to gas and electricity costs would also be temporary halted.
The civil unrest is some of the most serious in France since 1968, when massive demonstrations and wide-scale general strikes brought the nation's economy to a halt.
French demonstrators have been wearing the yellow vests as a symbol of motorists' discontent with the government's tax policy. But the "Yellow Jacket" movement has expanded far beyond fuel to include demands that French President Emmanuel Macron alter his approach to housing, health, education and the public purse.
The movement has attracted supporters from across the political spectrum, although it has resonated particularly with France's working class.
Since winning France's presidency last year, Macron has won praise for seeking to reform France's labor laws but he has faced opposition from protesters who feel that the changes favor the wealthy. He recently slashed a longstanding wealth tax.
"Yellow Jacket" supporters claim that Macron's government does not care about ordinary people or France's growing social inequalities. Macron, 40, regarded as politically centrist, was elected on a pro-business platform.
"It's a first step, but we will not settle for a crumb," said Benjamin Cauchy, one of the leaders of the protests, according to comments carried by the Associated Press.
A high school student clashes with a riot police officer during a demonstration against the French government in Bordeaux.