Yellow vest protests: France’s Édouard Philippe seeks ‘unity’ after unrest


PARIS: French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe has vowed to “restore national unity” after violence broke out during a fourth consecutive weekend of protests.
Police used tear gas and rubber bullets on Saturday – the latest day of “yellow vest” demonstrations against fuel tax rises and high living costs.
More than 1,700 people were arrested, but the violence was not on the same level as a week earlier. Discussions with peaceful protesters “must continue”, Mr Philippe said.
He added: “No tax should jeopardise our national unity. We must now rebuild that national unity through dialogue, through work, and by coming together.” He said President Emmanuel Macron – who many protesters want to stand down – would soon “put forward measures to foster this dialogue”.
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner praised police – who had been deployed in force – for containing much of the unrest.
In a tweet late on Saturday, Mr Macron thanked the security forces for their “courage and exceptional professionalism”. An estimated 125,000 people took part in marches across the country on Saturday, the interior ministry said.
Nearly 90,000 officers had been deployed, including 8,000 in Paris where 12 armoured vehicles were also used. Around 10,000 people demonstrated in the capital, where the scenes were the most destructive. Windows were smashed, cars were burned and shops were looted.


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