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‘We didn’t listen to people’: French PM admits mistakes in dealing with Yellow Vest rallies

Published: December 17, 2018
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Source: RT

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has acknowledged that the government made mistakes while handing the massive Yellow Vest protests that have gripped the country for the past five weeks.

“We made mistakes. We did not listen enough to the French people. I remain convinced that they want this country to be transformed,” he told Les Echoes newspaper on Sunday.

Violence at the demonstrations has been hitting record levels with hundreds of protesters injured since November 17. At least seven people died during the protests. Police officers have also suffered injuries.

French cities descended into chaos, with protesters smashing store windows, looting, overturning cars, and burning barricades. City centers were shrouded in fog from tear gas, smoke grenades and firecrackers. Earlier in December, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire admitted that the protests were a “catastrophe” for the country's economy and businesses.

There was massive security at the rallies, with tens of thousands of police officers deployed. Heavy armored vehicles belonging to French Gendarmerie – military police – rolled in the streets of the capital and several other cities. The number of those detained throughout the protests has surpassed 4,500.

People initially protested against fuel-price hikes due to come into force this January. The government has since abandoned those plans, but demonstrators continued to demand more concessions, including lower taxes and even the resignation of Emmanuel Macron.

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France is set to deploy tens of thousands of police and gendarmes across the country on Saturday, including 8,000 in Paris, to deal with a fifth weekend of Yellow Vest protests - just days after three people were killed and 13 injured after a mass shooting in the eastern city of Strasbourg.

As France still struggles to get a grip on the massive protests that have been raging through the country for weeks, President Emmanuel Macron has admitted that the country is in a state of “economic emergency.”

Paris was in lockdown early on Saturday with thousands of French security forces braced to meet renewed rioting by “yellow vest” protesters in the capital and other cities in a fourth weekend of confrontation over living costs.

French police fired the first batches of tear gas on Saturday as massive crowds of Yellow Vest protesters swarmed into the heart of the capital on the 4th weekend of unrest. Hundreds were detained prior to and at the rally.Police detained at least 700 people across the country, including 575 in Paris, during the rallies, Secretary of State to the Interior Minister Laurent Nunez confirmed, as cited by French media. The official added that a total of 31,000 people have been demonstrating in France.

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