Gilets Jaunes: Macron to speak after feared weekend

President Macron is avoiding making a public statement until after the weekend, to avoid "adding fuel to the fire"

President Macron is to make a statement on the Gilets Jaunes crisis early next week, it has been announced, as the government appeals for calm amid fears that this weekend’s violence could escalate.

Mr Macron’s public statement is expected “at the beginning of next week”, according to president of l’Assemblée Nationale, Richard Ferrand.

The President has deliberately chosen not to speak before the weekend, Mr Ferrand said, to avoid “adding fuel to the fire”, as fears grow over what is being dubbed the movement’s “Act 4” on Saturday. It will be the fourth consecutive weekend of protests.

Almost 90,000 police - including 8,000 in Paris alone - are expected to be on the streets, after the Élysée Palace admitted it was preparing for even more violence than last weekend.

Last Saturday’s movement injured over 230 people across the country, with hundreds arrested, and left monuments and buildings in Paris - and other areas such as Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire) - vandalised and burned.

The Élysée has said that it fears more damage to come this weekend from  “a hardcore of several thousand people” who are determined “to smash and kill”.

Mr Macron has already thanked law enforcement officers for keeping the peace last weekend, but is not expected to publicly talk again until next week.

Commentators have observed how the Gilets Jaunes movement - which began as a peaceful protest over fuel taxes and buying power - has been co-opted by extremists angry at the establishment in general, including protesters from the far-right and far-left.

An investigation from news source LCI found that there were at least 25 Facebook Groups entitled “Acte 4”, calling for large protests in significant areas of the capital this weekend.

Eric Drouet, leader of a prominent Facebook Group and calling himself a spokesperson of the movement, called on protesters to “return to Paris” on Saturday, especially “near to sites of power, such as the Champs-Élysées, l'Arc de Triomphe, and Concorde”, as well as Bastille, and Bercy.

In a video that has since been condemned by equalities minister Marlène Schiappa, he said: “This Saturday, it’s over. This will be the final push. We will decide what will happen.”

Minister for the Interior Christophe Castaner has repeated his appeals for calm. Speaking in the Senate this week, he said: “I invite all reasonable ‘Gilets Jaunes’ to detach themselves from extremists, and to not gather in Paris this Saturday.”

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