Paris on high alert as city shuts down for ‘yellow vest’ protests

1 / 3
Cars drive on the Champs Elysees, on December 7, 2018 in Paris, one day before the 4th nationwide mobilisation by the Yellow vests (gilets jaunes). (AFP)
2 / 3
Workers protect a shop window with wood panels on the Champs-Elysees Avenue near the Arc de Triomphe on the eve of a "yellow vests" protest in Paris, France, December 7, 2018. (Reuters)
3 / 3
French Interior minister Christophe Castaner (C) looks at a Gendarmerie vehicle of the mobile Gendarmerie armored unit (groupement blinde de la Gendarmerie mobile) on December 7, 2018 in Versailles-Satory, west of Paris. (AFP)
Updated 08 December 2018
0

Paris on high alert as city shuts down for ‘yellow vest’ protests

  • In addition to the 8,000 police forces that will be deployed in the French capital city, the Paris police prefect has identified 14 high-risk sectors that will be cleared out
  • More than 130 people were injured and over 400 were arrested in the worst street violence seen in the country in decades

PARIS: Paris was on high alert Saturday with major security measures in place ahead of fresh “yellow vest” protests which authorities fear could turn violent for a second weekend in a row.
Shops, museums, metro stations and the Tour Eiffel were due to close, while top-flight football matches and music shows were canceled.
The French capital experienced its worst riots in decades last weekend, in scenes that shook the country and plunged President Emmanuel Macron’s government into its deepest crisis so far.
France’s interior minister Christophe Castaner said he expected “only a few thousand people” to descend on the capital after the 8,000 protesters counted last weekend, “but among them are ultraviolent individuals.”
“These past three weeks have seen the birth of a monster that has escaped its creators,” he said, adding that a “large-scale” security operation would be launched Saturday.
He vowed “zero tolerance” toward those aiming to wreak further destruction and mayhem, after dozens of vehicles were torched, shops looted and the Arc de Triomphe war memorial was wrecked last Saturday.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Friday evening met a delegation of self-described “moderate” yellow vests who have urged people not to join the protests.
After the meeting a movement spokesman, Christophe Chalencon, said the premier had “listened to us and promised to take our demands to the president.”
“Now we await Mr.Macron. I hope he will speak to the people of France as a father, with love and respect and that he will take strong decisions,” he said.
Philippe said 8,000 police would be mobilized in Paris out of 89,000 nationwide, and that a dozen armored vehicles would be deployed — a first in the capital.

Shops around the famous Champs-Elysees boulevard — the epicenter of last week’s battle — were busy boarding up their windows and emptying them of merchandise on Friday.
Much of the city will effectively be on lockdown.
The operators of landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre and Orsay museums said they would be closed, along with operas, theaters, libraries and major department stores.
Foreign governments are watching developments closely in one of the world’s most visited cities.
The US embassy issued a warning to Americans in Paris to “keep a low profile and avoid crowds,” while Belgium, Portugal and the Czech Republic advised citizens planning to visit Paris over the weekend to postpone their visit.
In a warning of impending violence, an MP for Macron’s party, Benoit Potterie, received a bullet in the mail on Friday with the words: “Next time it will be between your eyes.”
Calls on social media for protesters to attack the police or march on the presidential palace have especially rattled the authorities.

Macron this week gave in to some of the protesters’ demands for measures to help the poor and struggling middle classes, including scrapping a planned increase in fuel taxes and freezing electricity and gas prices in 2019.
But the “yellow vests,” many of whom who have become increasingly radicalized, are holding out for more.
Named after the high-visibility safety jackets worn by demonstrators, they began blocking roads, fuel depots and shopping centers around France on November 17 over soaring fuel prices this year.
Since then the movement has snowballed into a wider revolt against Macron’s economic policies and his top-down approach to power.
Protests at dozens of schools over stricter university entrance requirements, and a call by farmers for demonstrations next week, have added to a sense of a government under siege.
And the hard-line CGT union, hoping to capitalize on the movement, has called for rail and Metro strikes next Friday to demand immediate wage and pension increases.
Castaner estimated Friday that 10,000 people were taking part nationwide.
“10,000 is not the people, it’s not France,” he argued, despite polls showing the protesters enjoying strong public support.

The protesters accuse the centrist president of favoring the rich and city-dwellers over those trying to make ends meet in car-dependent rural and small-town France. Many are calling on him to resign.
Macron’s “cardinal sin,” in the eyes of the protesters, was slashing wealth taxes shortly after taking office.
The 40-year-old former investment banker, dubbed “the president of the rich” by critics, has so far ruled out re-imposing the “fortune tax” on high-earners, arguing it is necessary to boost investment and create jobs.
But his climbdown on fuel taxes — intended to help France transition to a greener economy — marks a major departure for a leader who had prided himself on not giving into street protests.
Macron himself has not commented publicly on the crisis since his return from the G20 summit in Argentina a week ago.
On Friday he met gendarmes in the eastern Paris suburb of Nogent-sur-Marne ahead of the Saturday demonstrations. He is expected to address the protests in a speech 


UN climate talks in Poland go into overtime

Updated 21 min 38 sec ago
0

UN climate talks in Poland go into overtime

  • Diplomats and ministers prepared for a closing meeting at noon Saturday, a day past the original deadline
  • The talks are meant to provide a rulebook for all signatories of the 2015 accord

KATOWICE, Poland: Officials from around the world are still working to agree on the fine print of the Paris climate accord after two weeks of talks, even as workers dismantle sections of the conferenced venue around them.
Diplomats and ministers prepared for a closing meeting at noon Saturday, a day past the original deadline, but success was still uncertain.
The UN talks in Katowice, Poland, are meant to provide a rulebook for all signatories of the 2015 accord, ensure financial support for poor countries and send a signal that countries are prepared to increase their efforts in years to come.
The rules for carbon emissions trading remain a key sticking point.
Scientists say emissions of greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide need to drop sharply by 2030 to prevent potentially catastrophic global warming.