Act XIII: What to expect from the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ in France this Saturday

Act XIII: What to expect from the 'Gilets Jaunes' in France this Saturday
Protesters at a yellow vest demo in Montpellier on 2 February 2019. Photo: AFP
The 'yellow vests' are gearing up for a thirteenth day of national anti-government protests this weekend, with a big march planned in Paris on Saturday and events scheduled from Friday evening right through to Sunday in Montpellier.

President Emmanuel Macron and his government, who have launched a “great national debate” to try and placate the protestors, will be keeping a close eye on the numbers at the latest protests to see if the movement is waning or remains buoyant.

Demos are to be held across the country on Saturday, but the biggest is set for Paris, where last week around 14,000 turned out for a yellow vest protest, followed by more than 20,000 more who took to the streets there on Tuesday in a joint march by union members and yellow vests.

This weekend protestors plan to march from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Elysées before crossing the Seine, passing in front of the National Assembly, and finishing with a rally at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

Montpellier looks set to be a hive of activity this weekend, with a “festive stroll” scheduled for Friday evening that will wind through the southern city’s streets in what organisers hope will be “in joy and good humour.”

The major event of the weekend there will be the protest on Saturday whose aim organisers said will be to denounce the new anti-rioting law which aims to crack down on the sort of street violence that has marred yellow vest protests since November.

A “march for dignity” is due to be held on Sunday for disabled people, carers, and health workers in Montpellier.

Yellow vests in Bordeaux have been called on to gather in an as yet to be announced place at 1 pm on Saturday, and their march will be led by a cortege of motorbikes.

The demo in Marseille will kick off as usual at the Vieux-Port in the early afternoon, while another protest group in the south has called on people in the region to gather at the Italian border to “fight the repression of the French state.”

Smaller demos are expected to take place in other towns and cities across the country.

The yellow vest protests are the longest running and most violent in recent French history.

They began in November against rising fuel taxes, but quickly spiralled into a wider revolt over accusations that Macron, a former banker, is out of touch with ordinary people in small-town and rural France.


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