Published: Sun, December 09, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

French students join 'gilet jaunes' in protest

French students join 'gilet jaunes' in protest

Police unions and local authorities are holding emergency meetings Thursday to strategize - while disparate groups of protesters are sharing plans on social networks and chat groups. In the last few days, Paris saw the worst anti-government riot since 1968, French students set fires outside high schools to protest a new university application system, small business owners blocked roads to protest high taxes, and retirees marched to protest the president's perceived elitism.

The French government signalled Wednesday that it was prepared to make further concessions to "yellow vest" protesters, even raising a possible rollback on a controversial move to cut taxes for high earners previous year.

But experts say the government may have reacted too late to the street protests, a regular feature of French political life which have repeatedly forced Macron's predecessors into U-turns. Officers have also been instructed to directly engage with protesters, prompting fears of violence above and beyond that of last weekend.

As senior ministers sought to defuse public anger with conciliatory language on taxes, an official in the office of President Emmanuel Macron said intelligence suggested that some protesters would come to the capital this Saturday "to vandalise and to kill" and the prime minister, Édouard Philippe, said thousands of security personnel would be deployed across the country to keep the peace.

The French government proposed to tax carbon, which would have added about 15 cents a gallon to the price of gasoline, or a little less than 3 percent, starting January 1.

As it did last weekend, the U.S. Embassy advised Americans to avoid the demonstrations.

The announcement was made despite President Emmanuel Macron's decision Wednesday to abandon a fuel tax hike that has sparked weeks of unrest.

Some Metro stations and shops around the Champs-Elysees could also close.

Paris will shut down several museums and cultural sites this weekend in anticipation of more possible unrest stemming from another "yellow vest" protest.

He also said that planned increases in gas and electricity prices this winter would be halted, and that a toughening of the rules for vehicle emissions tests would also be postponed. Two police union officials told The Associated Press they are anxious that radical troublemakers from both the far-right and far-left will hijack the protests to cause even greater damage this Saturday.

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France has been rocked by protests since November 17 against the rising fuel taxes and the government's pro-business agenda.

"We're the ones who are going to eventually have to pay higher fuel prices", said Ines, one of around 150 high school students demonstrating in the southern Paris suburb of Cachan.

Why does he inspire such hatred among the "yellow vest" protesters?

Three weeks of protests have caused four deaths, injured hundreds and littered central Paris with burned cars and shattered windows.

The yellow vests protests have moved beyond the initial anger over fuel taxes.

The former investment banker was heckled by a crowd as he visited a burned out government building in Puy-en-Velay in central France on Tuesday night, just hours after a new opinion poll showed his approval rating at just 23%.

Philippe earlier said the six-month suspension to the carbon-tax would be used to examine other measures to bolster household spending power.

Their demands are diverse and include lower taxes, higher salaries and Macron's resignation.

A man looks at a burned auto in a street in Paris on December 2, 2018, a day after clashes during a protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) against rising oil prices and living costs.

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