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”.
“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.
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.
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.
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”.