Thursday, 21 February, 2019


French government urges unity in face of mass protests

French government urges unity in face of mass protests French government urges unity in face of mass protests
Conrad Doyle | 06 December, 2018, 17:51

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe had announced a six-month postponement of the tax on Tuesday but on Wednesday he and President Emmanuel Macron decided the tax would not be part of the 2019 budget, according to Secretary of Equality Marlene Schiappa.

Many "yellow vest" protesters, named after the high-visibility jackets they wear, have said that Philippe's rollback on fuel taxes is not enough and have called for new protests in the capital on Saturday.

French Prime Minister Edouard Phillippe speaks during an emergency debate in France's National Assembly over the fuel protests in Paris.

The most violent protests took place last weekend while Macron attended the G-20 (Group of 20) meetings in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The "yellow vest" protests began on November 17 in opposition to rising fuel taxes, but they have since ballooned into a broad challenge to Macron's pro-business agenda and style of governing.

Across France, four people have been killed in accidents linked to the demonstrations and road blockades, and hundreds injured.

The left-wing parties alone don't have almost enough votes to bring down the government, since Macron's centrist Republic on the Move party has a strong majority in the 577-seat house.

US President Donald Trump appeared to mock Mr Macron over the policy shift, which could make it harder for France to meet its Carbon dioxide emissions-reduction target, a core element of the Paris climate agreement of 2015.

During this two years in charge, PSG won one Ligue 1 title, as well as the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue in both seasons.

However, that move had fuelled criticism that Emmanuel Macron was a "president of the rich", since it would have eased the tax burden for numerous country's wealthiest citizens.

On Wednesday, De Rugy said a period of a year was made a decision to assuage fears that the unpopular increase would be merely postponed, only to be reintroduced once the protests stop.

Macron had made cutting wealth taxes a key campaign pledge ahead of his election in May 2017, arguing that such levies discouraged investment and drove entrepreneurs to leave France.

Philippe said "the tax is now abandoned" in the 2019 budget, and the government is "ready for dialogue".

"It's on the right path, but in my opinion it will not fundamentally change the movement", she said.

A demonstrator holds a placard reading " Join us" as they stand by toll gates on a motorway at Biarritz southwestern France, Wednesday, Dec.5, 2018.

Two truck driver unions have also called an indefinite sympathy strike to begin Sunday night, and the protests have spread to dozens of schools nationwide as students denounce tougher university entrance requirements.

In addition to their dissatisfaction with the government's offer regarding the price hikes, the yellow vest protesters have widened the scope of their demonstrations and demands in recent days. At Tolbiac University, students took over a school building and classes were canceled.

Macron has said he will "never accept violence".

"It's a first step, but we will not settle for a crumb", Benjamin Chaucy, one of the leaders of the protest, told Al Jazeera.

In a disparaging tweet, U.S. President Donald Trump claimed that Macron's decision Tuesday to delay the gas tax hike showed that the French leader doesn't believe in the 2015 Paris global climate accord.

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