French government warns of weekend of gilets jaunes violence

French government warns of weekend of gilets jaunes violence

The protests began in mid-November over an nearly banal grievance: Macron's decision to raise the tax on fuel in order to finance renewable-energy proposals.

"This anger, you would have to be deaf and blind not to see it, nor hear it", Philippe said after more than a fortnight of demonstrations by so-called "yellow vest" protesters.

But so far the "yellow vest" movement shows no signs of losing steam, despite the government's rollback of planned fuel tax hikes for January, one of the protesters' core demands.

Protest and street violence has been a central part of France's political culture - from the Revolution in the late 1700s to the student riots in 1968 - and the yellow vest movement reflects this tradition. Hundreds have been injured and four people have died, according to police.

Macron had said the increases were necessary to reduce France's reliance on fossil fuels and to tackle climate change.

Macron on Wednesday agreed to abandon the fuel tax hike, part of his plans to combat global warming, but protesters' demands have now expanded to other issues hurting French workers, retirees and students.

Two groups blockading petrol depots in Brittany said they would stand down following the announcement of the measures, which will cost public coffers some two billion euros ($2.3 billion). Other police unions are not talking about strikes - but two police union officials told The Associated Press they are anxious about radical troublemakers and others taking advantage of the protest atmosphere to cause even greater damage this Saturday.

So after nightfall Wednesday, as parliament debated the 2019 budget, Macron's government suddenly gave in.

'I'm happy for Unai Emery that he has been given this chance with Arsenal after what was two very frustrating years with Paris Saint-Germain, ' the Frenchman told Goal.

"The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters ... in the world".

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Many stores were smashed and looted in Paris last weekend.

A total of 65,000 police officers and law enforcement staff will be deployed across France on Saturday, 8,000 of whom will be in the French capital.

A series of football matches have also been postponed.

The French tech scene has seen a boom in recent years, helped by Macron's efforts to develop a "startup nation", as a new generation of tech-savvy entrepreneurs taps into the large pool of engineers that France's top universities produce.

An official in President Emmanuel Macron's office said intelligence suggested that some protesters would come to the capital this Saturday "to vandalise and to kill".

But the concession failed to quell the anger behind a movement which has retained broad public support, with an opinion poll this week showing 72 percent backed the protests despite last weekend's violence.

The "yellow vests" are so called because they have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law.

However, the statement from the palace indicated Macron's eco-agenda as a whole is far from over: "The citizen and parliamentary debate of the coming weeks and months will have to find solutions and funding that will meet the challenges of the ecological transition, solutions that must preserve the purchasing power of our fellow citizens".

On Facebook groups and across social media, the yellow vests are calling for an "Act IV", a reference to what would be a fourth weekend of disorder.

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