French president Emmanuel Macron to address nation on ‘yellow vest’ crisis

Emmanuel Macron will meet trade unionists and business leaders today as he attempts to end the country’s violent protests.

The French president is to address the nation on the “yellow vest” crisis at 8pm, his office announced.

It will be his first public comments after four weeks of nationwide anti-government demonstrations which turned violent over the weekend in Paris and other cities.

Government officials have said Mr Macron would announce “immediate and concrete measures” to respond to protesters’ grievances.

There have been calls across the political spectrum for drastic action, with former far-right presidential rival Marine Le Pen urging Mr Macron to “recognise society’s suffering and deliver immediate, very strong responses”.

A picture taken on May 9, 2017 shows a vandalised electoral campaign poster of French president-elect Emmanuel Macron in Paris
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A vandalised electoral campaign poster in Paris
Protesters are furious at the rising price of diesel - with some calling Emmanuel Macron a 'thief'
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Protesters are furious at the rising price of diesel

“It is clear that we underestimated people’s need to make themselves heard,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told Europe 1 radio on Sunday.

Finance minister Bruno Le Maire said the weeks of unrest were an “economic catastrophe” for France.

Tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon were fired in central Paris as the riots over fuel price hikes and the cost of living escalated.

Cleaners scrubbed off graffiti reading 'the yellow vests will triumph' from the Arc de Triomph before Mr Macron's visit
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Cleaners scrubbed off graffiti reading ‘the yellow vests will triumph’

The “yellow vests,” dressed in the luminous safety jackets carried by law in all French cars, began staging nationwide roadblocks on 17 November.

Their demonstrations have led to a mass movement against Mr Macron, whom protesters accuse of being out of touch with ordinary people in provincial France.










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Paris lockdown: Violence flares for a third weekend

Some 10,000 protesters had taken to Paris’ streets, where around 8,000 police were deployed.

More than 1,000 people were detained after security forces launched a massive operation in a bid to minimise the unrest.

The area around the Champs Elysee and the Arc de Triomphe was a key flashpoint.

A fireman extinguishes a burning bicycle during clashes
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A fireman extinguishes a burning bicycle during clashes
Riot police run next to a car off the Champs-Elysees in central Paris
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Riot police run next to a car off the Champs-Elysees in central Paris

Roads leading to the famous monument were closed and some protesters hurled rocks, set vehicles and rubbish bins on fire and put up barricades.

Some people scaled the arch, and at one point several hundred people sat underneath shouting “Macron resign!”

At least 19 Metro stations were also shut, reported France’s BFM TV, and stores including the famous Galeries Lafayette closed as a precaution.

Mr Macron later said there were 5,500 protesters in the capital and about 75,000 in total around the country.

He said those involved in the violence would be “held responsible for their acts” and that the disorder had “nothing to do with the peaceful expression of a legitimate anger”.

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