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Protests 'a crisis' for France as 1700 arrests made

12 Décembre 2018

Mr Macron's government warned that Saturday's "yellow vest" protests in Paris will be hijacked by "radicalised and rebellious" crowds and become the most risky yet after three weeks of demonstrations.

"The Paris Agreement isn't working out so well for Paris", Trump tweeted Saturday morning, as a day of violence and arrests unfolded.

As he met with other world leaders last weekend, images of burning barricades in Paris and the Arc de Triomphe monument in a cloud of tear gas were all over the television screens.

The Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum reopened today after closing due to yesterday's rioting.

Police officers block demonstrators wearing yellow vests from entering a street in Paris.

Last week French President Emmanuel Macron's government reversed course and suspended a planned fuel-tax increase that sparked the protests that entered a fourth weekend on Saturday. The so-called "yellow vest" protests are a disaster for France's economy, French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire told reporters on Sunday. He vowed the government would address their concerns over rising living costs.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called for new talks Saturday with representatives of the "yellow vest" movement. About 125,000 gilets jaunes took to the streets around France with a number of demands.

"His comments about the French protests are completely out of character typically for a sitting United States president", said Michael Geary of the Wilson Institute's Global Europe Program.

It started out as a revolt against a hike in taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel - hence the yellow vests worn by the activists, standard emergency gear in French cars - aimed by the French government at dealing with global warming.

Named after the fluorescent safety vests that French motorists must carry, the "yellow vest" protests erupted out of nowhere on November 17, when almost 300,000 demonstrators nationwide took to the streets to denounce high living costs and Macron's liberal economic reforms.

Macron delivered a public (albeit veiled) rebuke to Trump on home soil, at a speech in Paris marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, taking aim at Trump's "America First" policy.

However, up to 25,000 people also marched through Paris urging greater action on climate change, despite fears that their protest would be scuppered by "yellow vest" demonstrations. Christmas markets, national football matches and countless other events have been cancelled or disrupted by the protests.

President Macron made an unannounced visit Friday night to a group of anti-riot security officers outside Paris to thank them for their work.

In France, authorities have also launched an investigation into social media activity from accounts allegedly drumming up support for the protests, sources told AFP.

The scene was played out across France, with demonstrations turning violent in other provincial cities, including in Bordeaux, where protesters destroyed shopfronts, looted the Apple store and set fire to cars.

Protests 'a crisis' for France as 1700 arrests made