Arrests as Yellow Vest protesters march despite crackdown threat
March 23 2019 05:18 PM
Yellow Vest protesters take part in an anti-government demonstration called by the 'Yellow Vest' (gi
Yellow Vest protesters take part in an anti-government demonstration called by the 'Yellow Vest' (gilets jaunes) movement in Paris


Ramped-up rhetoric from French leaders did not dissuade some Yellow Vest protesters from demonstrating in Paris and other cities on Saturday.

Some 31 people were arrested in the capital, according to radio broadcaster Franceinfo, reporting that there were several separate demonstrations in the city.

Arrests were also reported in the southern city of Nice.

Protests by the Yellow Vest movement, which initially focussed on fuel price rises but since took on a broader anti-government stance, have rocked France for the last 19 weekends.

Authorities banned protests on Paris' Champs-Elysees and nearby areas, which were the scene of violence and looting at Yellow Vest protests last week, as well as in key areas of cities such as Toulouse, Marseille and Nice.

The government ordered police to break up any gatherings in forbidden areas.

Ministers have stepped up the rhetoric, repeatedly describing all those involved in last week's protests on the Champs-Elysees as ‘rioters’ not demonstrators.

The army has been called in to guard government buildings and free up police and security forces to deal with unrest, a move the opposition has denounced as dangerous.

The protests have been mostly peaceful in many smaller towns but have repeatedly degenerated into clashes with security forces in Paris and other cities.

The protesters, who have no recognized leaders or organizational structure, initially opposed planned fuel tax rises.

But since the tax hikes were cancelled they have raised broader demands about pay, tax and direct democracy, as well as calling for Macron to resign.

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