Friday 19 April 2019

French PM will announce suspension of fuel tax hikes that led to riots - reports

A man takes a selfie with a burning car in central Paris. Photo: Getty
A man takes a selfie with a burning car in central Paris. Photo: Getty
A inhabitants looks at flames from her window during a demonstration by Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes in French) against rising oil prices and living costs Photo by Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP)ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI/AFP/Getty Images
French humorist Gerald Dahan (C) demonstrates with French artists in support of the protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) (Photo by - / AFP)-/AFP/Getty Images
A protestor holding a French flag with a yellow jacket walks past the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
French riot police stand guard at the Arc de Triomphe during clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel taxes, at the Place de l'Etoile in Paris, France, December 1, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo
Demonstrators build a barricade near the Champs-Elysees during a demonstration (Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)
France's President Emmanuel Macron, center, France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, center right, Secretary of State to the Interior Minister Laurent Nunez, left, and Paris police Prefect Michel Delpuech, right, arrive to visit firefighters and riot police officers the day after a demonstration, in Paris (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Cleanup operations continue under the message, "The Yellow Vests will Triumph" written on the Arc de Triomphe, the morning after clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel taxes, in Paris, France, December 2, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
A yellow vest hangs inside a vandalized store the morning after clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel taxes, in Paris, France, December 2, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
France's President Emmanuel Macron shakes hand with a firefighter as he visits firefighters and riot police officers the day after a demonstration, in Paris, France December 2, 2018. Thibault Camus/Pool via REUTERS
France's President Emmanuel Macron arrives to meet firefighters and riot police officers the day after a demonstration, in Paris, France December 2, 2018. Thibault Camus/Pool via REUTERS
French riot police stand guard near a barricade during clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel taxes, at the Place de l'Etoile in Paris, France, December 1, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo
A man passes a vandalized bus stop the morning after clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel taxes, in Paris, France, December 2, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
A vandalized bus stop is seen the morning after clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel taxes, in Paris, France, December 2, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Workers prepare to clean graffiti reading ‘yellow jackets will triumph’ on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris (Thibault Camus/AP)
Riot police officers take up their position near the Arc de Triomphe during a demonstration (Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)
Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with a firefighter (Thibault Camus/AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, prior to a meeting at the Elysee Palace, the day after clashes between police and activists wearing yellow jackets (Stephane Mahe/ Pool Photo via AP)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

France’s prime minister will announce the suspension of fuel tax hikes that led to riots, reports said.

The reports come after French President Emmanuel Macron asked for an evaluation of security measures after a Paris demonstration against increased taxes and living costs turned into France's worst urban riot in a decade.

Hours after he flew back to the French capital from the G20 summit in Argentina, the president held an emergency meeting at the Elysee palace while crews worked to remove burned-out cars, broken glass and graffiti from the Champs-Elysees and other sites.

Paris police said 133 people were injured, including 23 police officers, as crowds trashed the streets of the capital on Saturday.

Officers fired tear gas and used water cannon to tackle the violence as protesters torched cars, smashed windows, looted stores and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with spray paint.

Paris police prefect Michel Delpuech said some officers described encountering "unprecedented" violence, including protesters using hammers, gardening tools, bolts, aerosol cans and rocks.

Some radical far-right and far-left activists were involved in the riot, as well as a "great number" of protesters wearing yellow jackets, Mr Delpuech said. The fluorescent jackets, which French motorists are required to have in their cars for emergencies, are an emblem of a grassroots citizens' movement protesting against fuel taxes.

Fires were started at six buildings and more than 130 makeshift barricades and 112 vehicles were torched, Mr Delpuech said.

France's President Emmanuel Macron, center, France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, center right, Secretary of State to the Interior Minister Laurent Nunez, left, and Paris police Prefect Michel Delpuech, right, arrive to visit firefighters and riot police officers the day after a demonstration, in Paris
(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
France's President Emmanuel Macron, center, France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, center right, Secretary of State to the Interior Minister Laurent Nunez, left, and Paris police Prefect Michel Delpuech, right, arrive to visit firefighters and riot police officers the day after a demonstration, in Paris (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said 378 people remained in police custody as of Sunday evening, 33 of them minors.

Earlier on Sunday, Mr Macron visited the Arc de Triomphe, which had damaged statues as well as graffiti. One slogan on the famed war memorial read: "Yellow jackets will triumph."

He then headed to a nearby avenue where activists battled police on Saturday to meet firefighters, police officers and restaurant owners.

At the security meeting, the French leader asked his interior minister to consider making "adaptations" to security procedures to try to contain protests sparked by rising fuel taxes.

Mr Macron also asked Prime Minister Edouard Philippe to meet the heads of France's major political parties and representatives from the grassroots movement behind the protests.

Plans for an earlier meeting between the prime minister and representatives of the movement collapsed last week after a request to broadcast the talks live was rejected.

It was the third straight weekend of clashes in Paris involving activists dressed in the yellow vests of the new protest movement.

The grassroots protests began on November 17 with motorists upset over a fuel tax hike, but have grown to encompass a range of demands and complaints that Mr Macron's government does not care about the problems of ordinary people.

The scene in Paris contrasted sharply with protests elsewhere in France that were mostly peaceful.

"It's difficult to reach the end of the month. People work and pay a lot of taxes and we are fed up," said Rabah Mendez, a protester who marched peacefully on Saturday in Paris.

Speaking in Buenos Aires before he flew home to Paris, Mr Macron said he welcomed the views of protesters but vowed that those who participated in wreaking havoc would be held responsible for their behaviour.

"(Violence) has nothing to do with the peaceful expression of a legitimate anger" and "no cause justifies" attacks on police or pillaging stores and burning buildings, Mr Macron said.

Press Association

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