France’s prime minister is promising “exceptional” security measures for protests planned in Paris and around the country Saturday, amid fears that radicals and troublemakers will take advantage of the moment to seed chaos.
Speaking Thursday to lawmakers, Edouard Philippe said the government is taking “all measures necessary” to secure the protests, bringing in additional security officers to bolster the 65,000 forces already in place around the country.
He urged “yellow vest” protesters to stay home for their own protection from those who could hijack the protests, after demonstrations in Paris last Saturday degenerated into rioting and looting. He also praised union leaders and local officials who are joining the government’s call for calm.
His government deeply damaged by weeks of protests and looking grave, Philippe acknowledged that the government’s dramatic concession this week over the fuel tax rise that sparked the protest movement “doesn’t respond” to all the protesters’ concerns.
French left-wing opposition parties are seeking a no-confidence vote in President Emmanuel Macron’s government amid growing protests and fears of violence.
The Socialist Party, far-left Defiant France and the Communist Party are setting aside their divisions and promising to submit the request to the lower house of parliament, or National Assembly, on Monday.
The assembly would hold a no-confidence motion within 48 hours of the request.
The left-wing parties alone don’t have nearly 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. But they are trying to attract support from other opposition forces.
The move is a new swipe at Macron and his government, dramatically weakened by weeks of “yellow vest” protests.
The government is trying to calm tensions but with little success. The transport minister met Thursday with truckers’ unions but they maintained their promise to go on strike Sunday.
Paris police and store owners are bracing for new violence at protests Saturday, despite President Emmanuel Macron’s surrender over a fuel tax hike that unleashed weeks of unrest.
Police unions and local authorities are holding emergency meetings Thursday to strategize — while disparate groups of protesters are sharing plans on social networks and chat groups.
After the worst rioting in Paris in decades last weekend, many shops and restaurants in the center of the capital are expected to shut down Saturday, fearing a repeat of the violence.
Macron on Wednesday agreed to abandon the fuel tax hike, but protesters’ demands have now expanded to other issues.
Protesting students are disrupting schools and universities Thursday, and drivers are still blocking roads around France, now demanding broader tax cuts and government aid.