PARIS, March 18 (Reuters) – Police in Paris clashed with protesters for a third night on Saturday as thousands of people marched across the country in anger at a government that raised the state pension age without a parliamentary vote.
Growing unrest and strikes have left President Emmanuel Macron facing the most serious challenge to his authority since the so-called “Gilets Jaunes” (yellow vest) protests four years ago.
“Macron, resign!” and “Macron collapses, we win,” chanted protesters in Place d’Italie in southern Paris. Riot police used tear gas and clashed with some of the crowd as trash cans caught fire.
Municipal authorities had banned demonstrations in central Paris on Place de la Concorde and the nearby Champ-Elysees on Saturday night after demonstrations that led to 61 arrests over the previous two nights.
Earlier in the French capital, a group of students and activists from the “Revolution Permanente” collective briefly stormed the Forum des Halles shopping mall, waving banners calling for a general strike and shouting “Paris rise up, rise up”, videos posted on social media. seemed
BFM television also showed images of ongoing protests in cities such as Compiegne in the north, Nantes in the west and Marseille in the south. In southwestern Bordeaux, police also used tear gas against protesters who set fires.
“There is no place for violence. Parliamentary democracy must be respected,” Digital Transition and Telecommunications Minister Jean-Noel Barrot told Sud radio.
A broad confederation of France’s main unions has said it will continue mobilizing to try to force a reversal. A national industrial action day is planned for Thursday.
Garbage has accumulated on the streets of Paris as waste workers have joined the action.
About 37 percent of operational staff at TotalEnergies’ ( TTEF.PA ) refineries and warehouses – including Feyzin in southeastern France and Normandy in the north – were on strike on Saturday, a company spokesman said. The rolling strikes on the railways continued.
Although the eight days of nationwide protests since mid-January and many local industrial actions have so far been largely peaceful, the unrest of the past three days is reminiscent of the yellow vest protests that erupted in late 2018 over high fuel prices. The protests forced Macron to take a partial reversal on the carbon tax.
Macron’s reform raises the retirement age by two years to 64, which the government says is necessary to prevent the system from collapsing.
Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Gilles Guillaume and Forrest Crellin; Editing by David Holmes and Peter Graff
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