Protesters, police clash in Paris for a third night amid widespread anger over Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms.
Protesters and police in the French capital, Paris, have clashed for a third night as thousands took to the streets across the country and workers at refineries went on strike to oppose the government’s decision to raise the state pension age without a parliamentary vote.
The growing unrest, combined with rubbish piling up on the streets of Paris after refuse workers joined in the action, has left President Emmanuel Macron with the gravest challenge to his authority since the so-called “Gilets Jaunes”, or Yellow Vests protests, which began in late 2018.
“Macron, Resign!” and “Macron is going to break down, we are going to win,” demonstrators chanted on the Place d’Italie in southern Paris.
Riot police used tear gas and clashed with some in the crowd as rubbish bins were set on fire.
Municipal authorities had banned rallies on Paris’s central Place de la Concorde and nearby Champ-Elysees on Saturday night after demonstrations that resulted in 61 arrests the previous night. There were 81 arrests on Saturday night.
Earlier in the French capital, a group of students and activists from the Permanent Revolution Collective briefly invaded the Forum des Halles shopping mall, waving banners calling for a general strike and shouting, “Paris, stand up! Rise up,” videos on social media showed.
People marched in towns and cities around the country after regional unions called for a weekend of protests.
BFM television also showed images of demonstrations under way in cities such as Compiegne in the north, Nantes in the west and Marseille in the south. In Bordeaux, in the southwest, police also used tear gas against protesters who had started a fire.
“The reform must be implemented … Violence cannot be tolerated,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Le Parisien newspaper.
Ariane Laget, 36, was among about 200 people demonstrating in the small southern town of Lodeve.
“We’re fed up. We feel like we’re being trampled on and no one is listening,” she told the AFP news agency.
A broad alliance of France’s main unions has said it would continue to mobilise to try to force a U-turn on the pension changes. A day of nationwide industrial action is planned for Thursday.
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