France: 'Yellow vest' protesters keep up pressure on Macron

Hundreds take to the streets for the eighth week as grassroots movement against President Emmanuel Macron rumbles on.

    The 'yellow vest' protests started in November over opposition to Macron's planned fuel tax hikes [Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters]
    The 'yellow vest' protests started in November over opposition to Macron's planned fuel tax hikes [Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters]

    France's "yellow vest" protesters have taken to the streets in the capital, Paris, and other cities for an eighth successive week of demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron.

    Several hundred demonstrators gathered on Saturday along the capital's central Champs Elysees avenue, where around 15 police wagons were also deployed, the AFP news agency reported.

    Local media reported that tear gas was fired nearby in a confrontation between protesters and police. 

    Public broadcaster FranceInfo, meanwhile, reported gatherings ranging from dozens of people to more than 1,200 in other towns and cities across the country.

    Participation in the grassroots movement has fallen steadily since the start of the "yellow vest" protests in November when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in opposition to Macron's planned fuel tax hikes.

    Government U-turn

    Macron's price rises, which had been set to take effect on January 1, 2019, were justified by the French leader as necessary to combat climate change and protect the environment.

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    But Macron abandoned the proposal in response to the protests - named after fluorescent vests French motorists must keep in cars - and announced extra cash for minimum wage earners in addition to tax cuts for struggling pensioners.

    The 41-year-old has also flagged further changes to the country's national unemployment and pension system.

    On Friday, government spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux said Macron had told ministers they should be more radical in their attempt to reform the country and that law and order must be restored.

    Griveaux also denounced those still demonstrating as "agitators who want insurrection and, basically, to overthrow the government".

    However, an opinion poll published on Thursday by French survey organisation Odoxa Dentsu indicated 55 percent public support for the continued protests.

    The sometimes violent demonstrations have brought disruption and destruction to Paris and other major cities.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies