All eyes on Macron as fresh demos hit France

Paris, Sunday

Calls mounted Sunday for President Emmanuel Macron to bring an end to the “yellow vest” crisis gripping France as authorities in Paris and elsewhere counted the cost of another day of violent protests and looting.

Authorities said the anti-Macron riots in Paris had been less violent than a week ago, with fewer injured—but city hall said the physical damage was far worse as the protests were spread out across the capital.

Burned cars dotted the streets in several neighbourhoods on Sunday morning as cleaners swept up the broken glass from smashed shop windows and bus stops.

“There was much more dispersion, so many more places were impacted,” said Paris deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire. “There was much more damage yesterday that there was a week ago.”

The southwestern city of Bordeaux was also badly hit during a fourth successive weekend of nationwide “yellow vest” protests.

What began as demonstrations against fuel tax hikes have ballooned into a mass movement over rising living costs and accusations that Macron, an ex-banker, only looks out for the rich.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the unrest was creating a “catastrophe” for the French economy, with nationwide roadblocks playing havoc with the traffic and putting off tourists from Paris. Parts of the city were on lockdown Saturday, with department stores shut to avoid looting along with museums and monuments including the Eiffel Tower.

“It’s a catastrophe for commerce, it’s a catastrophe for our economy,” Le Maire told reporters as he visited shops in Paris hit by looting.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux vowed that Macron’s centrist administration would find solutions that took into account protesters’ different grievances.  The protests have shown little sign of easing since they began on November 17. – AFP

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