French ‘yellow vest’ protests planned for New Year’s Eve

Source:AFP Published: 2018/12/28 21:13:39

Govt measures insufficient to stop movement

The "yellow vest" anti-government protests that have rocked France will continue on Saturday and New Year's Eve, and into 2019, several sources from within the movement said.

"The yellow vests are still mobilized," said Laetitia Dewalle, one spokeswoman of the protest movement which does not have a traditional leadership structure.

Several of the movement's representatives said a seventh straight Saturday of protests will take place across the country this weekend.

Yellow-vest representative Benjamin Cauchy said protesters would be out on New Year's Eve as well, "to show that the mobilisation will not end in the new year".

Cauchy warned that if the concessions made so far by President Emmanuel Macron did not materialize, "we will end up with a large-scale mobilization in late January."

Earlier on Thursday, Paris city officials said that New Year's Eve celebrations on the Champs-Elysees will go ahead despite the protest plans on the famed avenue.

Tens of thousands of tourists and locals traditionally ring in the new year on the wide shopping boulevard, which ends at the Arc de Triomphe monument.

The Champs-Elysees has since last month been the epicenter of repeated violent protests against Macron's government, with the Arc de Triomphe ransacked on December 1.

While the numbers turning out at protests across the country have dwindled dramatically, several thousand people are listed on Facebook as planning to attend what it calls a "festive and non-violent event" on New Year's Eve.

Paris officials said that they would continue as planned with preparations for a fireworks display and sound and light show on the Champs-Elysees under the theme "fraternity."

The avenue is a regular gathering point for national celebrations.

But on recent Saturdays it has been the scene of violent clashes between riot police and "yellow vest" protesters who accuse Macron of favouring the rich with his policies.

The movement sprang up online in October and spiraled into the worst crisis of Macron's presidency, with tens of thousands blocking roads and protesting across France.

Macron sought to defuse the crisis in mid-December by announcing a 10 billion euro ($11.4 billion) package of measures to help pensioners and low-paid workers.

Since then the "yellow vests" have been split between moderates willing to engage in dialogue with the government and others intent on remaining at the barricades.


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