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French gov't pledges to harden stance against more violent "yellow vest" protests
Last Updated: 2019-01-08 07:23 | Xinhua
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The French government would firmly respond to destructive "yellow vest" actions following protests which turned violent over the weekend, government officials said on Monday.

Speaking to RTL radio, Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin called "an ultraviolent part of the 'yellow vest'" that according to him was seeking to topple President Emmanuel Macron's presidency as "delinquents and thugs."

"Facing an ultraviolence, there is a necessity of ultra-severity. That must stop," he said.

In the latest street demonstrations during the weekend which drew 50,000 people, anti-government protesters used a forklift truck to force their way into a government building compound, set cars ablaze near the Champs Elysees avenue and torched electric motors and garbage bins on the upmarket Boulevard Saint Germain.

Television images showed a violent scuffle on a bridge over the Seine where "yellow vests" tried to reach the National Assembly. They punched and kicked riot police officers to the ground.

In the wake of violent clashes between rioters and police, 345 people were detained, with 281 remained in police custody, Le Monde newspaper quoted figures from the Interior Ministry.

"There are measures that can be taken and are being worked on," government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said without elaborating.

"I'm in favor of everything that can help to restore the Republican order, to prevent the violence that has occurred, which is hitting the security forces and also the demonstrators who find themselves get caught up in this phenomena of violence," he told France Inter radio.

He called for a "state of democratic emergency" to resume the dialogue with discontented people to hammer out adequate devices to end social strains.

Struggling to maintain order and adapt policing tactics to handle the outburst of violence during weekend protests, Macron's executive team was mulling to create a list of violent demonstrators and troublemakers, according to local reports.

"Several measures must be studied, including that of the list, but also a hardening of the penal legislation in certain circumstances," said Laurent Nunez, Secretary of State to the Minister of the Interior.

In November 2018, people angry at higher fuel tax began blocking roads, occupying highway tollbooths and staging rolling nationwide protests.

Their movement have since turned into a bigger uprising denouncing a squeeze on household spending, high living costs caused by the president's fiscal policy which they say favors the rich.

Some of them asked Macron to step down and called for a "citizens' initiative referendum" to allow citizens to have stronger say to define the economic and social roadmap for the eurozone's second main powerhouse.

Two months on, the 'yellow vest" movement which has no clear leader, is still posing a stern challenge to Macron, who is struggling to defuse public anger and meet protesters' requests, despite a series of concessions he made last month, including higher minimum wages and tax breaks.

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French gov't pledges to harden stance against more violent "yellow vest" protests
Source:Xinhua | 2019-01-08 07:23
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