Published: Tue, January 22, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

French yellow vest protests planned despite Macron outreach

French yellow vest protests planned despite Macron outreach

During Saturday's demonstrations, at least 20 people have been detained only in Paris.

"We do not believe in the grand debate", said Jonathan Gaby, a demonstrator from the Paris suburbs.

Demonstrators who gathered in the central Paris at noon chanted anti-Macron slogans and denounced the police violence against protesters. About 80,000 police are fanned out nationwide.

By giving the protesters a forum to air their grievances, Macron hopes to lure them off the streets.

Macron this week kickstarted two months of public consultations on issues ranging from taxation to public services, spending over 12 hours in total debating with mayors at two separate gatherings in the north and south-west of the country.

The demonstrations were largely peaceful but Reuters Television reporters said they saw clashes break out late in the afternoon between police and demonstrators, some wearing masks, in Paris' Invalides district.

The 41-year-old has also flagged further changes to the country's national unemployment and pension system.

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But once in office he adopted a top-down approach more in keeping with that of post-war president Charles de Gaulle.

A prodigious debater, he vigorously defended his reforms. Saturday marks the 10th straight weekend of yellow vest protests, and will test whether Macron's debate is diminishing the movement's momentum.

Thierry Paul Valette, founder of a group called "yellow vests citizens", said the yellow vests would have "no break".

French police have been criticized for using rubber projectiles that have caused several serious injuries to protesters.

The police have pointed to several attacks on officers as justification for their sometimes heavy-handed approach.

Macron, who had never held office before being elected president, has struggled to find ways to overcome the biggest challenge yet to his presidency.

The fuel taxes have since been scrapped but the campaign has now become an anti-Macron protest. The package, estimated at 10 billion euros ($11.46 billion), includes a 100-euro monthly increase to the minimum salary.

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