Macron criticises protesters and Trump
French President Emmanuel Macron called for order yesterday (Sunday) after a sixth weekend of “yellow vest” protests.
Numbers fell at the demonstrations and there was a violent attack on the police in central Paris.
During a visit to Chad to visit French troops serving in a counter-terror task force, Macron told the media: “There must be order now, calm and harmony. Our country needs it.
“It needs harmony, unity, sincere commitment to strong collective causes and we must heal the divisions,” said the 41-year-old.
The president has struggled to ease anger in small-town and rural France over declining spending power, stagnating wages and policies seen as aimed to benefit the privileged, urban elite.
Around 40,000 people took part in protests on Saturday, the interior ministry reported. Around twice that number purportedly took part in gilets jaunes protests on the preceding weekend.
The yellow vests must be kept in every French car and are used to symbolise a driver in distress amid Macron’s proposed fuel tax hike.
In Paris, violence broke out again on the Champs Elysees and three police officers on motorbikes fled after activists threw paving stones and other projectiles at them.
A video, which was shared on social media, showed one officer pulling out his pistol and pointing it at the protesters.
Macron also used the Saharan press conference to criticise Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw forces from Syria.
The embattled Macron said: “I very deeply regret the decision made on Syria. To be allies is to fight shoulder to shoulder.
“It’s the most important thing for a head of state and head of the military. An ally should be dependable.
“An ally must be reliable, to co-ordinate with its other allies.”
The US envoy taking on Islamic State, Brett McGurk, has followed defence secretary, Jim Mattis, in resigning at Trump’s decision to abandon US allies in the failed state.
McGurk said he was resigning over the “reckless” plan to withdraw 2,000 troops from Syria, with Trump claiming Isis had been defeated.
The security specialist said the Islamic State was on the run but not yet defeated.
Macron paid tribute to Mattis, who resigned last Thursday following the Syria announcement.
Mattis said in his resignation letter: “My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades’ immersion in these issues.”
An international force in Chad is fighting Islamist insurgents. Picture credit: Wikimedia