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French presidency fears 'major violence' at Saturday's protests

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French presidency fears 'major violence' at Saturday's protests
A scene from the protests in Paris on December 1st. Photo: AFP
12:10 CET+01:00
The French presidency has revealed that it fears there will be "major violence" from an "extreme core of several thousand" at the 'yellow vest' protests set to take place across France, notably in Paris, on Saturday.
"We have reason to fear a great violence," the presidential palace told AFP amid calls for renewed mobilization of 'yellow vests' across the country after last weekend's 'unprecedented violence' on the streets of the French capital. 
 
The presidency told BFM TV it fears an "extreme core of several thousand people" who would come to Paris "to destroy".
 
French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday urged politicians and union officials to launch a "call for calm."
 
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe echoed that call in parliament and urged politicians to be responsible.
 
"What is at stake is the safety of the French people and our institutions. I call here for responsibility, " said Philippe.
 
"All the actors in this public debate, politicians, union leaders, editorialists and citizens, will be accountable for their statements in the coming days," he added.
 
In a move they hoped would help appease protesters the government announced it was completely scrap the planned fuel tax hikes for 2019, yet it appears demonstrators are unsatisfied and are ready to push for more concessions that will help boost their spending power.
 
The anxiety of the French authorities is evident in view of the prospect of another day of violence in the heart of the capital which is still under the shock of last weekend's riots.
 
There have been dozens of calls to demonstrate in Paris on social media on Saturday, with many naming the Champs-Elysees -- the scene of riots on December 1st -- as the meeting point. 
 
Several thousand people have already said they are ready to take part in more demonstrations.  
 
And perhaps most worryingly for the French president and government, many of these events and those who are interested in going are calling for more disorder in the capital.
 
Protests planned for next weekend under the name Acte IV (Act 4) refer to the fact that this could be the fourth weekend of protests in France. 
 
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ANALYSIS: The yellow rebellion is threatening to engulf France - Macron must actPhoto: AFP

A pinned post for one Facebook event planned for this Saturday, shows the yellow vest movement apparently “at the top of its game” in video footage of fights between protesters and police near the Arc du Triomphe filmed last weekend. 
 
In the discussion for the event, Acte 4 - Vous avez carte blanche à Paris (Act 4: You have free reign in Paris), over 1,000 people have confirmed they will be attending and 6,000 have said they are interested, suggesting that protesters are gearing up for more violent conflict with the authorities this weekend. 
 
“Stop telling us to be peaceful... why should we act like reasonable people when the government doesn't?” one wrote.
 
Another added, “in the event of Act 4 the police will have the army and security companies with them. They want nothing more or less than a war."
 
Many yellow vest organisers are invoking France's revolutionary history as justification for more unrest in the streets this coming weekend.
 
Another Facebook event “Acte IV: Aux Armes Citoyens”, taking place at the Eiffel tower on Saturday morning, is named after the famous line from the national anthem encouraging citizens to take up arms. The event has more than 3,000 confirmed attendees and a further 21,000 interested in going. 
 
Appropriately, one commenter plans “to bring Molotov cocktails to force the barricades!”
 
Anarchists, butchers and finance workers: A look at the Paris riotersPhoto: AFP
 
A total of 13,000 protesters have either confirmed or are thinking of attending the “Acte 4: Appel National” (Act 4: National Call) in the capital, with commenters in the event discussion drawing comparisons between today's yellow vest protests and the infamous period of civil unrest in France during May 1968.
 
“In '68 protesters weren't called hooligans! Stop being sheep and have some balls!” one commenter wrote under an image showing chaos and destruction in the streets of Paris during demonstrations in the 60s.
 
Another commenter urged others to share an image of a demonstrator from May '68 hurling objects at police barricades.
 
Printed on the image are list of changes the May '68 protests brought about followed by the caveat “incredible violence was unfortunately necessary to achieve all this."
 
While protests are being planned at famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Place de la Bastille, some yellow vests are also calling for more targeted action. 
 
They have suggested taking the protests to wealthy areas of Paris and the headquarters of news outlets BFM TV and TF1, who they feel have “discredited the movement” with news coverage biased against the yellow vests.
 
Non-violent protests are also being planned in the capital on December 8th, but even among this group it seems there is support for the “hooligans” and all the media coverage they have received.  
 
One yellow vest posted, “it's thanks to them that we are being heard.”
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