Macron booed - and cheered - on Champs-Elysées visit

President sees for himself damage caused during riots on Saturday

President Emmanuel Macron was jeered - and cheered - as he saw for himself the scale of the damage on the Champs-Elysées on Sunday, less than 24 hours after a second Gilets Jaunes protest on the famous Parisian thoroughfare turned violent.

Having seen the damage to the Arc de Triomphe, as well as to other buildings and the wreckage of burnt-out cars during a surprise visit to the scene a few hours after returning from the G20 summit in Argentina.

During his tour of the scene, he was booed and jeered - but also greeted with smatterings of applause and some cheers, while he also spent 30 minutes thanking police officers for their efforts to maintain law and order.

"I will never accept violence," he said. "No cause justifies that authorities are attacked, that businesses are plundered, that passers-by or journalists are threatened or that the Arc du Triomphe is defiled."

Mr Macron later met Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner and top security service officials the presidential palace in Paris to discuss the crisis.

The government has not ruled out imposing a state of emergency after protests, which began over fuel taxes spilled over into wider anger over the agenda of Mr Macron's government. But the Elysée said that the possibility was not discussed at Sunday's meeting.

However, a statement said that the president had asked Mr Castaner to prepare security forces for future protests, while Mr Macron asked Mr Philippe to meet protest organisers and party leaders as part of a "constant wish for dialogue.".

Across France, some 136,000 demonstrators, most of them peaceful, were counted across the country on Saturday, according to interior ministry figures.

Mr Macron is not due to speak in public on Monday, despite calls for him to offer some concessions to demonstrators. But he has so far rejected calls to stop, or at least freeze, January's planned tax increases on fuel, which he says are needed to fund the country's transition to a low-emission economy.

Opposition politicians condemned Saturday's violence but also criticised the government's response.

"The government is not entitled to a third black Saturday," said Senate President Gerard Larcher, amid warnings of another wave of protests in the capital, while far-right and far-left leaders Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon joined calls for new parliamentary elections.

A poll carried out after Saturday's protests found that 72% of the population still back the movement, despite the violence.

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

More articles from French news
More articles from Connexion France
Other articles that may interest you

Comment

Loading some business profiles...

Loading some classifieds...