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Starbucks in Paris vandalized by 'yellow-vest' protesters Starbucks in Paris vandalized by 'yellow-vest' protesters  (ANSA)

France's Premier urging unity after violent protests

France's Prime Minister Édouard Philippe pledges to "restore national unity", a day after running battles between yellow-vested protesters and riot police in Paris as pressure mounts for the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron following the fourth consecutive weekend of protests.

By Stefan J. Bos   

Workers are trying to put Paris on its feet again. Destroyed bus stops and shattered shop windows show the aftermath of the violent clashes.

Passersby also look at damages on a Starbucks Cafe in the French capital. It was among the many businesses damaged in the yellow vest' protests.

At least some Paris residents have mixed feelings about Saturday's violence. "I think this is an angry response to growing social injustice in our society, I do not think it's always legitimate, but there are some problematic things in our government," a woman said.  

  Authorities said some 125,000 people took part in marches across the country on Saturday. Nearly 90,000 officers had been deployed, 
including 8,000 in Paris where 12 armored vehicles were also used. More than 1,700 people have been detained, and over 100 people were injured,
including several journalists by rubber bullets fired by police.  

The protests began last month in response to French President Emmanuel Macron's announcement of fuel tax hikes. But they have since evolved into an expression of general anger at high costs of living, poverty and perceived social inequality in France.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report

Breaking silence

The man at the focus of protesters’ anger, President Macron, broke his silence overnight to say on social networking site Twitter that he appreciated the police and a spokesman said he would address the nation early in the week.

His Prime Minister Édouard Philippe pledged to restore national unity and promised that the president would announce measures to calm the anger dividing France. "It is time for dialogue," he said. He made clear that no tax should jeopardize national unity.

The prime minister stressed that he wants to rebuild that national unity " through dialogue, through work, and by coming together." And, he said,  that French President Macron, who many protesters want to resign, would "soon propose measures to foster this dialogue" to enable France to tackle "the issues that are facing the nation now and in the coming years."

Saturday’s protests were seen by commentators as a direct blow to Macron, who already abandoned the fuel tax rise that initially prompted the yellow vest protest movement a month ago.

Critics say Macron’s turnaround has damaged his credibility with climate defenders and foreign investors. His move was also ridiculed by 
U.S. President Donald Trump, a vocal opponent of the 2015 Paris climate change accord that Macron had championed worldwide.

 

09 December 2018, 17:00