The Latest: Macron calls for calm and order before protests
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on anti-government protests in France (all times local):
French President Emmanuel Macron is calling for “calm” and “order” ahead of promised new protests by the broad yellow-vest movement after rioting in recent weeks.
Macron said Friday that “I don’t think our democracy can accept” the “occupation of the public domain and elements of violence” that marked protests the past few Saturdays, notably in central Paris.
Speaking after an EU summit in Brussels, he said: “Our country needs calm. It needs order. It needs to function normally again.”
He insisted “I have heard” the protesters’ concerns, and defended his promises to speed up tax relief.
He dismissed calls for his resignation, among the protesters’ disparate demands.
Anticipating a fifth straight weekend of violent protests, Paris’ police chief said Friday that armored vehicles and thousands of officers will be deployed again in the French capital this weekend.
A survey suggests the “yellow vest” protests in France have dealt a significant blow to business activity in the country’s services sector, which includes tourism and retail.
The so-called purchasing managers’ index, which measures activity in various parts of an economy, fell to 49.6 points in December for France’s services sector. That is down sharply from November’s 55.1 points. The index, published Friday by data firm IHS Markit, is on a 100-point scale, with the 50 mark separating expansion from contraction.
Eliot Kerr, economist at IHS Markit, said the data points to “an outright contraction in France’s private sector for the first time in two-and-a-half years, following the protests which have swept through the country in recent weeks.”
The “yellow vest” protests began as demonstrations against a fuel tax and have expanded into sometimes violent marches across the country to protest the policies of President Emmanuel Macron.
Anticipating a fifth straight weekend of violent protests, Paris’ police chief says armored vehicles and thousands of officers will be deployed again in the French capital on Saturday.
Michel Delpuech told RTL radio on Friday security services intend to deploy the same numbers and strength as last weekend, with about 8,000 officers and 14 armored vehicles again in Paris.
Delpuech said the biggest difference will be the deployment of more groups of patrol officers to catch vandals who roamed streets around the Champs Elysees last weekend, causing damage and pillaging.
A sixth “yellow vest” protester was killed this week, hit by a truck at a protest roadblock. Despite calls from authorities urging protesters to stop the protests, the movement rocking the country has showed no signs of abating.