One dead, dozens injured in French protests over fuel prices

Petrol station

Taxes Fuel Protests in France Drivers to Block Roads AFP 2018 JEFF PACHOUD

French Interior Ministry officials estimated at midday that about 125,000 protesters were involved in some 2000 demonstrations around the country, many of them spontaneous.

Protesters aim to target tollbooths, roundabouts and the bypass that rings Paris, while the government is preparing to send police to remove protesters and threatening fines.

According to French media reports, the protesters knocked on the woman's vehicle as she tried to take her daughter to hospital Saturday local time. "The yellow jackets must understand this is a peaceful movement", she said.

The nationwide protest was unusual because it arose from within the citizenry, backed neither by unions nor politicians, although some took part in a clear bid for supporters.

- "President of the rich" - The movement enjoys much broader support than other protests since Macron swept to power past year, with 73 percent of respondents backing the protests in an Elabe poll this week.

The ministry said security forces used tear gas in several places besides the Champs-Elysees to unblock major routes, including firing about 30 canisters at the entrance to the Mont Blanc tunnel.

"We're on maximum alert", said Christophe Castaner, the interior minister, reiterating that police would ensure that no roads were completely blocked in order to ensure people's safety. "It is heard. The government is attentive to all demonstrations and, of course, we must continue to answer the expectations of the French including those about their purchasing power".

"The protesters were united in two things: the first was the symbol of their protest, the yellow vest they were wearing; and the second was that they were angry and frustrated at the president in the hike of petrol and diesel", Barker said. Those French who have a hard time making ends meet often rely on cheaper diesel fuel.

"This isn't just about fuel prices, this is about President Macron and his government and also this feeling of a division between what many describe as the urban elite, represented by President Macron, and ordinary working people".

But he said he would not rescind increases on fuel tax - set to rise again in January. The tax on gasoline is to increase 4 euro cents.

Many drivers see them as emblematic of a presidency disconnected from day-to-day economic difficulties and serving the rich.

Anger over the high fuel prices has resulted in Macron's popularity taking a hit over the recent months - from 39 percent in July to 21 percent in October.

In Paris, protesters holding "Macron resign!" signs and singing the national anthem partially blocked the Champs Elysees in the heart of the French capital.

Latest News