Sun, Nov 17, 2019 - Page 4 News List

France’s yellow vests plan protests for anniversary


Protesters attend a demonstration to mark the first anniversary of the “yellow vests” movement in Paris yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

French “yellow vest” protesters are planning a series of nationwide demonstrations this weekend in a bid to show the government they can still muster support on the first anniversary of their movement.

Numbers attending the protests and levels of violence have sharply diminished in recent months from the height of the movement, which began on Nov. 17 last year with a giant Paris protest that drew almost 300,000 people.

Still, the yellow vests want the actions yesterday — their traditional day for protests — and also today — the anniversary day — to show President Emmanuel Macron they remain a force to be reckoned with. Around 200 demonstrations are planned, with authorities expecting several thousand to rally in the capital.

This estimate includes a few hundred radical protesters from the ultra-left and far-right, often behind the worst scenes of mayhem.

France has a long tradition of violent protest, but the ferocity of last winter’s demonstrations and allegations of police brutality shocked the country.

Officials said the magnitude of the weekend protests is far from certain, but French Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said there was a “more pronounced interest” than in previous weeks, and police would plan their deployment accordingly.

“There will be a significant mobilization but not on the scale we saw in December and January at a national level,” said a French security source, who asked not to be identified by name.

“We are expecting a difficult Saturday,” the source said, adding that protesters “mobilize at the last minute in a bid to take us by surprise.”

A poll by the Elabe institute published Wednesday said 55 percent of French people support or have sympathy for the yellow vests, although 63 percent said they do not want the protests to begin in earnest again.

The most prominent figures in the movement acknowledge the declining numbers, but say the authorities’ response has not been sufficient.

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