French yellow vest protesters hit streets for 21st weekend

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Protesters stand at the statue at Place de la Republique in Paris on April 6, 2019, as people gather for a demonstration by the 'Yellow Vests' (gilets jaunes) movement for the 21st consecutive Saturday. (AFP)
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Protesters stand around the statue at Place de la Republique in Paris on April 6, 2019, as people gather for a demonstration by the 'Yellow Vests' (gilets jaunes) movement for the 21st consecutive Saturday. (AFP)
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Protesters wave flags at the statue at Place de la Republique in Paris on April 6, 2019, as people gather for a demonstration by the 'Yellow Vests' (gilets jaunes) movement for the 21st consecutive Saturday. (AFP)
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Jerome Rodrigues, one of the leading figures of the "yellow vests" (gilets jaunes) movement, who was injured in the eye during a yellow vest demonstration, applies eye drops at Place de la Republique in Paris on April 6, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 06 April 2019
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French yellow vest protesters hit streets for 21st weekend

  • Hundreds gathered in Rouen, in Normandy, a past flashpoint, and hundreds more in eastern Paris at the Place de la Republique
  • The yellow vest movement, demanding social and economic justice, has attracted dwindling crowds but still remains a challenge to President Emmanuel Macron

PARIS: Protesters from the yellow vest movement are taking to the streets of France for a 21st straight weekend, with hundreds gathered for a march across Paris, one of numerous protests around the country.
Paris police have fine-tuned their strategy of being more mobile and proactive to counter eventual violence since the first Saturday of protests Nov. 17. The Champs-Elysees avenue is off-limits to protesters after it was hit by rioting last month.
Hundreds gathered in Rouen, in Normandy, a past flashpoint, and hundreds more in eastern Paris at the Place de la Republique, the start of a march to the business district on the capital's western edge.
The yellow vest movement, demanding social and economic justice, has attracted dwindling crowds but still remains a challenge to President Emmanuel Macron.


US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

Updated 19 April 2019
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US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

  • A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend
  • The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group

KABUL: The US envoy for peace in Afghanistan expressed disappointment on Friday after the collapse of a planned meeting between the Taliban and a group of Afghan politicians in Qatar that exposed some of the deep divisions hampering efforts to end the war.
A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend. The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group, which included some government officials attending in a personal capacity.
“I’m disappointed Qatar’s intra-Afghan initiative has been delayed,” Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, said on Twitter. “I urge all sides to seize the moment and put things back on track by agreeing to a participant list that speaks for all Afghans.”
The collapse of the meeting before it had even started, described as a “fiasco” by one senior Western official, laid bare the tensions that have hampered moves toward opening formal peace negotiations.
Khalilzad, a veteran Afghan-born diplomat, has held a series of meetings with Taliban representatives but the insurgents have so far refused to talk to the Western-backed government in Kabul, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.
The Doha meeting was intended to prepare the ground for possible future talks by building familiarity among Taliban officials and representatives of the Afghan state created after the US-led campaign that toppled the Taliban government in 2001. A similar encounter was held in Moscow in February.
President Ashraf Ghani’s office blamed Qatari authorities for the cancelation, saying they had authorized a list of participants that differed from the one proposed by Kabul, “which meant disrespect for the national will of the Afghans.”
“This act is not acceptable for the people of Afghanistan,” it said in a statement on Friday.
Sultan Barakat, director of the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies in Qatar, which had been facilitating the meeting, said there was no disagreement about the agenda.
“Rather, there is insufficient agreement around participation and representation to enable the conference to be a success,” he tweeted.
Preparations had already been undermined by disagreements on the government side about who should attend, as well as by suspicions among rival politicians ahead of presidential elections scheduled for September.
The Taliban derided the agreed list of 250 participants as a “wedding party.” Some senior opposition figures who had been included refused to attend.
The Taliban also objected to Ghani’s comments to a meeting of delegates that they would be representing the Afghan nation and the Afghan government, a statement that went against the insurgents’ refusal to deal with the Kabul administration.