The Latest: French protests ahead despite Macron concession
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on mass protests in France (all times local):
French protesters are welcoming President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to scrap a fuel tax rise planned for next year — but say it may not be enough to contain public anger.
Jacline Mouraud, one of the group’s self-proclaimed spokespeople, told The Associated Press “I think it comes much too late.”
She said each of the disparate protesting groups will decide what to do next, but many will probably keep protesting. She says Macron’s move on Wednesday night “is on the right path but in my opinion it will not fundamentally change the movement.”
She urged protesters to seize on the French government’s weakness to push other demands such as a rise in the minimum wage.
The anti-government protests started last month over the fuel tax but have grown to encompass a broad range of grievances and anger at Macron. More protests are planned Saturday in Paris.
French President Emmanuel Macron has scrapped a fuel tax rise amid fears of new violence, after weeks of nationwide protests and the worst rioting in Paris in decades.
An official with the Elysee palace told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the president decided to get rid of the tax.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told lawmakers that “the tax is now abandoned” in the 2019 budget, and the government is “ready for dialogue.” The budget can be adjusted or renegotiated through the course of the year.
Three weeks of protests have left four people dead and were a massive challenge to Macron.
One of the activists leading France’s protest movement says that he fears more deaths if Saturday’s demonstration goes ahead, and called for President Emmanuel Macron to speak out and bring calm.
Christophe Chalencon said that “if not there will be chaos,” with risks of more deaths.
Chalencon said in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press that the grassroots movement, triggered by fuel tax hikes, has grown amid Macron’s silence.
Four people have died since protests began in November. Violent rampaging last Saturday devastated the French capital.
Chalencon, a 52-year-old blacksmith, said the public needed Macron to “admit he made a mistake, with simple words ... that touch the guts and heart of the French.”
He said the prime minister’s announcement Tuesday of a freeze on tax hikes “had no resonance.”
The concessions made by France’s prime minister in a bid to stop the huge and violent anti-government demonstrations that have been rocking France over the past three weeks, seem to have so far failed to convince protesters, with trade unions and farmers now threatening to join the fray.
A day after Edouard Philippe announced a suspension of planned fuel tax hikes that kicked off protests, the “yellow vest” protest movement showed no sign of slowing down on Wednesday. Students opposed to a university application system remained mobilized, trucking unions called for a rolling strike and France’s largest farm union threatened to launch protests next week.
A joint statement from the CGT and FO trucking unions protesting a cut to overtime rates called for action from Sunday night.