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Yellow Vest protests renew as Macron mulls new measures to quell public anger

14 Apr 2019, 00:26 ( 6 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
"Yellow Vest" protesters shout slogans near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, on Dec. 8, 2018. File Xinhua.

Thousands of "Yellow Vest" protestors turned out on Saturday for the 22nd weekend of the action in a row to denounce unfair fiscal policy, as President Emmanuel Macron is preparing a package of new measures to be unveiled next week to head off the social movement.

   About 31,000 people took part in the demonstrations in Paris and other French cities, the Interior Ministry estimated, up from last week's 23,000 participants.

   In Paris, Saturday's protests coordinated by "Yellow Vest" via social media against Macron's ruling has lured 5,000 participants compared with 3,500 last Saturday.

   Marches in the capital and other cities were largely peaceful, with violence reported in the southeastern city of Toulouse, the focus for the 22nd round of protests.

   Violent confrontation occurred between police and vandalism, during which two people were injured and 23 arrested.

   Tension flared after hundreds hooded demonstrators threw projectiles at anti-riot officers, set rubbish bins on fire. Police fired tear gas and used rubber bullets to push back rioters and restore order.

   The "Yellow Vest" movement, a nationwide protest against weak economic performance and stagnant income increase under President Macron, started as a campaign against surge in fuel prices in November 2018.

   It had since turned into social rebellion demanding Macron to step down, despite his reversal of tax hike and measures worth 10 billion euros (11.3 billion U.S. dollars) to bolster purchasing power.

   To further defuse anger, Macron launched in January a series of public debates that he promised will lead to concrete measures.

   "I intend to transform anger to solution," the 41-year-old head of state said in an open letter to the nation when he launched the consultations.

   "Your proposals will therefore build a new contract for the Nation, structure the action of the government and parliament, but also the positions of France at the European and international level," he pledged.

   Three months on, the president will announce, early next week, a new batch of measures to respond to public anger.

   The conclusions that emerged from 10,000 meetings with local mayors, high-school students, workers, intellectuals as well as 1.9 million online contributions and 16,000 in "grievance books" opened up by mayors across French communes, would lead to "strong and concrete decisions," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said while he presented the consultations' initial findings on Monday.

   "The debate show us very clearly which way we go. We need to lower taxes and lower them more quickly," he said.

   "What the French tell us is that they do not see the results coming, that things do not move fast enough. This is a powerful incentive to redouble efforts," he added.

   According to a recent Elabe online survey, eight out of 10 French citizens believed the consultations would not be transformed into deeds. One third of them called the country-wide consultations as a failure, while only 6 percent of them believed it was a success.