At least 1,700 protesters have been arrested in the latest round of nationwide “Yellow Vest” rallies across France, where angry demonstrators took to the streets for the fourth consecutive week to express their outrage against President Emmanuel Macron’s economic policies.
Interior Ministry said a total of 1,723 protesters were arrested across France during the latest round of the protests in which demonstrators clashed with riot police.
The so-called Yellow Vest protests turned violent again on Saturday with police using tear gas and water cannon to disperse angry protesters in Paris and several other cities.
Police in Paris said 1,082 arrests were made on Saturday, up sharply from 412 in the previous round earlier this week in the city.
According to the interior ministry, about 136,000 people took part in Saturday’s protests, almost the same as the number of those who attended December 1 rallies. Clashes broke out in several cities, including Marseille, Bordeaux, Lyon and Toulouse. In Paris, demonstrators set fire to cars, burned barricades and smashed windows in pockets of violence.
As the authorities say, the protesters caused “much more damage” on Saturday compared with December 1 nationwide rallies.
During the rallies, protesters called on President Macron to resign. He is now expected to address the nation in the coming days.
On Sunday, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called for new dialogue with representatives of the yellow vest movement. He promised that the government will address concerns over rising living costs. He said the police managed to bring the situation under control. The authorities had previously warned that there would be zero tolerance towards violence.
Earlier this week, the French government canceled a planned rise in taxes on petrol and diesel in a bid to defuse the situation; however protests appear to have transformed into a broader anti-Macron rebellion.