France to halt fuel tax after anti-Macron riots

  1. PM Edouard Philippe: "people's anger must be heard"
  2. 400 arrested and 130 injured after 'gilet jaunes' protested in Paris and major cities

Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced a moratorium on rising fuel taxes in France.

After hosting a reception for French party leaders Philippe confirmed Tuesday, 4 December the suspension of fuel tax price rises — a major claim of activists known as “gilets jaunes” because of the high-visibility yellow clothing required to drive a vehicle by French law — in an attempt to defuse the situation.

The third Saturday (1 December) in a row with “yellow vest” demonstrations led to violence and degradation, especially in the capital where a hundred people were injured in chaotic riots unseen since 1968.

Damage to one of France’s most revered monuments, the Arc de Triomphe, was assessed after having been stormed and vandalised during the troubles on Saturday, 1 December (France 24).
The smashed face of the Statue of Marianne, a symbol of the French republic, was becoming viral after violent demonstrators and rioters attacked the beloved site.
In one of the worst instances of unrest Paris has seen since the protests and riots of 1968, over 220 people were arrested in Paris on Saturday when the latest “gilet jaunes” (“yellow vest”) protests were once again marred by violence over rising fuel taxes.
Speaking at the Paris police’s command centre, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said 5,500 were protesting in the capital while 36,000 protested across France — a figure that AFP has updated to 75,000.

The latest count released by Paris police said there had been 224 arrests by 6:30 pm local time, but that number could rise further.

Most of the arrested were held after clashes between police and protesters erupted at the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs-Elysées.

Last week French President Emmanuel Macron tried to douse the anger by promising three months of nationwide talks on how best to transform France into a low-carbon economy without penalising the poor.

He also vowed to slow the rate of increase in fuel taxes if international oil prices rise too rapidly but only after a tax hike due in January.

However, trouble flared at around 9 a.m. when a group of protesters tried to break through a police checkpoint to get onto the famous avenue.

Police fired tear gas into the ranks of masked protesters, who responded hurling rocks and missiles in the other direction.

Some 1,500 “agitators”, many throwing rocks and construction barricades at police, were active after “peaceful” protesters gathered at the Arc de Triomphe and other central areas in Paris, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

“200 peaceful demonstrators on the Champs Elysées. 1,500 agitators outside the security perimeter who came to fight,” Castaner said on Twitter, adding that 39 arrests had been made.

Junior Minister Laurent Nunez said there were around 3,000 “casseurs” (rioters) involved in the trouble at the Arc de Triomphe.

Right-wing leader Marine Le Pen took to Twitter to show her support to the protests saying, “Congratulations to the #GiletJaunes that have made a stand by singing the Marseillaise to protect the flame of the unknown soldier against the thugs. You are the people of France standing against the scum!”

The famous Place de L’Etoile was also evacuated in the early afternoon after a whole morning of clashes.

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