Yellow vest protests ‘economic catastrophe’ for France

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The “yellow vest” protests have been “a catastrophe” for the French economy, the finance minister says.

France has seen four consecutive weekends of demonstrations against fuel tax rises, high living costs, and other issues.

About 125,000 protesters took to the streets on Saturday, with more than 1,700 people arrested. Several tourist sites, including the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum, are closed this weekend.

A view of the Place de la Republique as protesters wearing yellow vests gather during a protest

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the situation “a crisis” for both society and democracy.

“It’s a catastrophe for commerce, it’s a catastrophe for our economy,” he said during a visit to shops in Paris that had been damaged during the protests.

The capital was particularly badly hit, with windows smashed, cars burned, and shops looted, as 10,000 people took part in demonstrations.

“There was much more damage yesterday than a week ago” because Saturday’s protests were more dispersed, deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire told local radio.

However, he added that there had been fewer injuries compared with last week.

Meanwhile Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian responded angrily to US President Donald Trump, who on Saturday in tweets appeared to suggest the Paris Climate Agreement was the reason for the unrest.

“I say this to Donald Trump and the French president says it too: leave our nation be,” Le Drian said. President Emmanuel Macron – who many protesters want to stand down – will address the nation in the coming days.

He is expected to meet trade union and business leaders on Monday morning, according to union sources. Macron has kept a low profile so far during the protests. (BBC)

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