Nearly 1,400 arrests in French ′yellow vest′ protests as government offers dialogue | News | DW | 08.12.2018
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Nearly 1,400 arrests in French 'yellow vest' protests as government offers dialogue

Some 125,000 people across France donned yellow safety jackets to rally against President Emmanuel Macron and the high cost of living. In Paris, armored vehicles and thousands of police contained the demonstrators.

Watch video 03:21

Interview with 'yellow vest' protestor Ghislain Coutard 

More than a thousand people were arrested across France on Saturday as police clashed with "yellow vest" demonstrators in the fourth week of anti-government protests.

Some 125,000 people took to the streets across the country, officials said, with around 10,000 gathering in Paris.

Protests in several areas of Paris saw police use tear gas and water cannons against demonstrators. Some protesters set fire to cars and smashed windows.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said 1,385 people had been arrested.

Less violence

Nevertheless, a beefed-up police presence appears to have prevented the widespread violence that left more than 280 police officers injured during last weekend's rallies.

On Saturday, 17 law enforcement officers and just over 100 protesters suffered injuries.  

The protests took place despite the government cancelling a fuel tax hike on Wednesday that had sparked the yellow vest movement in mid-November.

Yet many demonstrators have broadened their range of grievances in recent weeks to include high living costs and the economic reforms of French President Emmanuel Macron, seen to benefit business.

'Knit our national unity back together'

Far-right, anarchist and anti-capitalist groups have tried to infiltrate the movement, according to the government.

Speaking after the protests had ended, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the time had come for a dialogue "to knit our national unity back together." Macron, he added, would address the protests and their grievances next week.

Belgium and the Netherlands also witnessed smaller yellow vest protests on Saturday, with police in Brussels arresting some 400 people during a march through the city center.

Trump's call

US President Donald Trump said the protests in Paris were "very sad" and called on the French government to cancel a 2015 international agreement to tackle climate change.

"Maybe it's time to end the ridiculous and extremely expensive Paris Agreement and return money back to the people in the form of lower taxes?" he wrote on Twitter.

None of the yellow vest protesters have said they are demonstrating against the 2015 deal.

amp/jm (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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