Macron considers use of army to prevent new Paris 'war zone'
More than 130 people are injured and 420 arrested as yet another weekend of 'yellow vest' violence sweeps France
French President Emmanuel Macron has held a cabinet meeting to consider "all options", including a state of emergency and deploying soldiers, to prevent a repeat of the violent protests that left swathes of Paris looking like a war zone.
Mr Macron, facing the worst political crisis of his presidency, returned yesterday morning from a G20 summit in Argentina and went directly to the Arc de Triomphe to assess the damage caused by so-called "yellow vest" anti-government protesters.
The arch, which lies at the top of the prestigious Avenue des Champs-Élysées, was where the violence began early on Saturday morning before spreading throughout the day as far as the Louvre and the Opera districts.
Police said 133 people were injured and 412 arrested as protesters torched dozens of cars, smashed windows, looted stores, and threw rocks at police in what Anne Hidalgo, the Paris mayor, said was the worst unrest the city has seen since student uprisings of 1968.
"The situation is very serious. We are going through a major crisis," she told 'Le Parisien' newspaper.
The yellow vest movement spread to Belgium on Friday, where police turned water cannons on anti-government protesters who threw stones and torched two police vehicles in central Brussels. Protests also erupted in the Netherlands.
The revolt was sparked by planned fuel tax rises, but has turned into a broad opposition front to Mr Macron, a 40-year-old pro-business centrist elected in May 2017, who is accused of being the "president of the rich" and of neglecting the struggles of ordinary French people.
On Saturday, Dutch police closed off the parliamentary complex in The Hague after about 100 yellow-jacket protesters gathered outside.
But those protests were minor compared to the unrest in Paris, which has faced serious rioting for the third Saturday in a row, or the roadblocks set up around France by protesters who say they can barely survive on their incomes. After last week's street battles, Mr Macron said the streets of Paris resembled "war scenes".
This weekend the violence was even worse, with Paris police using around 10,000 tear gas and stun grenades to disperse demonstrators.
Young men, many of them with their faces masked, battled riot police throughout Saturday in some of the capital's most upmarket areas, smashing shop windows, overturning cars and torching buildings and vehicles, including at least one police car.
The big department stores in the Opera area were closed as trouble broke out nearby.
Anarchist and far-right groups that have infiltrated the yellow vest movement are thought to be behind much of the violence. After visiting the Arc de Triomphe, Mr Macron spoke with police and firefighters on one of the avenues near the Champs-Élysées. Some bystanders applauded him, but more jeered, including yellow-jacketed protesters chanting: "Macron, resign!"
The president then headed to the Élysée Palace for an emergency meeting with the prime minister, interior minister and top security officials.
Benjamin Griveaux, the government's spokesman, said before the meeting that "all options" would be considered, including imposing a state of emergency, to avoid a repeat of the violence. (© Daily Telegraph, London)