Tear gas fired as yellow vest protesters invade Paris ring-road
It was the 21st weekend in a row of demonstrations across France.
Protesters from the yellow vest movement took to the streets of France for the 21st weekend in a row, with thousands marching across Paris.
Riot police rounded up a group of protesters who had invaded the city’s busy ring-road on Saturday, with officers firing a round of tear gas to stop others from entering a ramp on to the road.
In Rouen, Normandy, police fired tear gas in a showdown with protesters after rubbish bins and other items were set on fire.
The Interior Ministry put the numbers at 22,300 participants nationwide and 3,500 in Paris – the lowest attendances since the yellow vest protests started on November 17.
The movement routinely contests the government’s attendance figures.
The numbers taking part have been dwindling since the first protests over fuel hikes attracted hundreds of thousands.
But the leaderless grassroots movement for social and economic justice continues to pose a challenge for French President Emmanuel Macron.
Mr Macron organised a national debate to respond to concerns about sinking living standards, stagnant wages and high unemployment that were aired at the initial demonstrations.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is set to provide an initial recap on Monday of the debate, then to address parliament.
But many yellow vest participants remain sceptical.
Paris protester Agnes Berger said: “We will continue until victory. We give up nothing, because today, nothing has been obtained.
“We still have a corrupt system, an elite that governs against the people.”
Jeremy Gibon, from the suburb of Le Mesnil-Amelot, underscored protesters’ determination with his call for a radical solution that creates a “new system”.
He said: “It’s a war of attrition. We feel if we make everything fall, we can rebuild something… It will be for us. You’ll see.”
Last month, rioters started major fires, ransacked luxury stores and attacked police around the famous Champs-Elysees Avenue. The Champs-Elysees has since been declared off-limits to protesters.