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Sunday 20 October 2019

French yellow vest protesters return to streets

Women led a calm and orderly march in Paris, one day after International Women’s Day.

Yellow vests demonstrators march through Paris (Francois Mori/AP)
Yellow vests demonstrators march through Paris (Francois Mori/AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

Hundreds of protesters in France’s yellow vest movement have taken to the streets for a 17th straight weekend in Paris and other cities, to maintain pressure on the government to reverse policies they see as favouring the rich.

Women, some carrying pink balloons, led the calm and orderly Paris march, advocating for equal rights and equal pay a day after International Women’s Day.

Protests in the French capital were led by women (Francois Mori/AP)

The march, which began at the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the famed Champs-Elysees, looped through both sides of the Seine River before ending at the top of Luxembourg Gardens on the Left Bank.

Marches were also held in numerous cities around France including Bordeaux, which has a strong contingent of yellow vest protesters, Lille, and Le Puy-en-Velay, in south-central France, where hundreds joined from other regions.

The numbers of protesters on the streets has diminished over the weeks, and polls have shown support by the French fading due to violence and damage that has marked some protests.

Demonstrators march past the Louvre Museum in Paris (Francois Mori/AP)

The movement, named after the emergency vests the French are required to keep in their cars, held its first nationwide protest on November 17.

The main complaint then was fuel tax hikes, but that long ago expanded to an array of demands. Calls for a citizens’ referendum is now among top demands on the list.

The grassroots movement has been a major challenge to President Emmanuel Macron, who in response has organised national debates around the country – many of which he attends himself.

Riot police officers were on hand close to protesters in Paris (Francois Mori/AP)

He has also offered a multibillion-pound package of measures to appease protesters.

But determination has not flagged for many, and a larger showing is widely expected at next week’s protests marking four months of marches and coinciding with the end of the president’s two months of debates.

Paris protester Yannick Caroff said: “The people don’t want more of this financial globalisation.

“The French people will not back down… Between 10 and 15 million French are in misery.”

PA Media

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