One dead and 47 injured in fuel tax protests in France

Nov 19, 2018, 01:57
One dead and 47 injured in fuel tax protests in France

One protester has been killed and 47 injured as demonstrators blocked roads around France to protest over fuel price increases, the interior ministry said.

Far-left party Unbowed France's leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said the number of protesters was much higher than the interior ministry's assessment and accused the government of "dramatizing" the movement.

Almost 300,000 protesters paralyzed traffic at more than 2,000 strategic sites around France on Saturday in a bid to force the government to lower taxes on diesel fuel and gasoline.

In the eastern Savoie region, a 63-year-old woman was killed when a mother trying to take her daughter to see a doctor panicked after protesters surrounded their vehicle, and suddenly accelerated into the crowd.

The protesters call themselves the "yellow jackets" after the fluorescent vests all French drivers are mandated to keep in their vehicles in case of a roadside breakdown.

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Media reports that there have been some 50 other injuries across the country, including in the northern region of Arras where a 71-year-old man was hit by a auto. But up to 200 people were later seen walking down the street, apparently heading toward the Elysee presidential palace. Hundreds of protesters took over the Place de la Concorde at the bottom of the avenue, shouting "Macron resign" as police looked on.

Riot police used tear gas to drive protesters away from the residence of President Emmanuel Macron last night after a day of rage against the government in which more than a quarter of a million people blocked roads at more than 2,300 points across the country from Brittany in the west to the Côte d'Azur in the south.

In January the price of diesel is set to go up by seven cents a litre, and petrol by three cents.

Now in France petrol costs €1.54 ($2.56) a litre and diesel €1.51 ($2.51) a litre.

The "yellow vests" movement, named for the high-visibility jackets worn by supporters, erupted on social media last month with calls for blockades of roads and highways.

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Macron wants to close the gap between the price of diesel fuel and gasoline as part of his strategy to wean France off fossil fuels.

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

"I'm very disappointed. I really hope he's going to listen to us but I don't have a lot of hope for that". "There's no discussion to be had with him, no dialogue, he's arrogant".

"I don't think silence is the right answer", said Troyes Mayor Francois Baroin, a former mainstream right minister and senator before the prime minister spoke.

Macron's popularity has plunged, hovering around 30 per cent. "There are too many taxes in this country", he told The Associated Press.

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