News ID: 237071
Published: 0348 GMT January 08, 2019

France to crack down on unsanctioned protests

France to crack down on unsanctioned protests

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced plans to punish people who hold unsanctioned protests after seven weeks of anti-government unrest.

His government wants to draft new legislation that will ban troublemakers from protests and clamp down on the wearing of masks at demonstrations, BBC wrote.

He said 80,000 members of the security forces would be deployed for the next expected wave of protests.

Protesters smashed down the gates to a government office this weekend.

In other chaotic scenes in Paris, demonstrators fought riot police and cars and motorbikes were burnt.

Protests against fuel tax erupted on November 17 when people across France donned high-visibility vests, giving them their nickname the "gilets jaunes" ("yellow vests"), and went out to disrupt traffic.

Similar actions have followed every weekend and while the number of demonstrators has dropped, cities across France continue to see rioting and disruption.

At least six people have died and at least 1,400 have been injured as a result of the unrest.

Speaking on French TV channel TF1, Philippe said the government would support a "new law punishing those who do not respect the requirement to declare [protests], those who take part in unauthorized demonstrations and those who arrive at demonstrations wearing face masks."

Known troublemakers would be banned from taking part in demonstrations, in the same way known football hooligans have been banned from stadiums.

The onus would be on "the troublemakers, and not taxpayers, to pay for the damage caused" to businesses and property during the protests.

What began as anger over green tax on vehicle fuel has grown into more general discontent with the leadership of President Emmanuel Macron, who protesters accuse of favoring the urban elite.

"Those who question our institutions will not have the last word," Philippe said on Monday.

In a sign that the government was taking a harder line, police arrested one of the protest leaders, truck driver Eric Drouet, last week for organizing an unauthorized demonstration in Paris.

Senator Bruno Retailleau welcomed the news of the prime minister's plans, writing on Twitter that "hooded" troublemakers who participated in protests "must be severely punished."

However, Laurent Wauquiez, the leader of the Republican party, tweeted that the move was not enough because it would not take "immediate effect."

He said his party had previously proposed a state of emergency, adding, "Why not listen to us, at the risk of seeing the situation worsen Saturday after Saturday?"

Meanwhile left-wing leader, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, said the planned measures would mean that "demonstrators can no longer demonstrate."

In a Twitter post, he described Philippe as the "king of the Shadoks," a reference to bird-like cartoon characters featured in a popular French TV series and known for their ruthlessness.



Resource: BBC
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