France plans anti-protest legislation

France plans anti-protest legislation

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has unveiled plans to punish unplanned “gilets jaunes” protesters after seven weeks of unrest.

His government wants to draft legislation to ban violent protesters and outlaw the wearing of masks.

He said 80,000 security personnel would be deployed for the next protest.

In chaotic scenes in Paris, demonstrators battled riot police and cars and motorbikes were torched.

Protests against fuel tax rises began on November 17 when “yellow vests” protesters across France started to disrupt traffic.

Cities across France continue to see weekend rioting and disruption.

At least six people have died and around 1,400 have been injured.

Philippe announced that the government would support a “law punishing those who do not respect the requirement to declare a [demonstration], those who take part in unauthorised protests and those who arrive wearing face masks”.

Known troublemakers would be banned as football hooligans had been excluded from stadiums, the centrist prime minister added.

Legislation could be introduced as soon as February, Philippe said.

The “troublemakers, and not taxpayers, would pay for the damage caused” during protests, he added.

Philippe said the “casseurs” or thugs would be forced to pay for the damage they caused.

President Emmanuel Macron is accused by protesters of favouring the urban elite.

“Those who question our institutions will not have the last word,” Philippe said.

Police arrested one yellow vest leader, truck driver Eric Drouet, for allegedly organising an unauthorised rally in Paris.

On Saturday, on Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris a boxer chased and punched a riot police officer during a running battle on a bridge. Barricades burned on the boulevard, underscoring how protests against high living costs and Macron had turned violent on the fringes.

One riverboat restaurant was torched and a police officer was wounded when he was hit by a bicycle dropped from a street above the banks of the Seine.

Other cities like Rouen and Caen also saw rioting and in all around 50,000 protested compared with the 280,000 who turned out in November.

A police chief was seen hitting protesters in Toulon.

Macron, in his new year address, said the government would “make no allowances in guaranteeing public order”.

Now the protesters are vowing to inject fresh momentum into a movement that weakened over the Christmas period.

The violence has taken the authorities by surprise. Picture credit: YouTube

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.