France protests: Driver dies at ‘yellow vest’ roadblock
Man dies in road incident as demonstrators take to the streets for another weekend
‘Yellow vest’ protesters walk past the Louvre in Paris, France, on Saturday. Photograph: AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu
A driver died in southern France on Friday when his car hit a truck at a roadblock erected by “yellow vest” protesters, raising the death toll linked to the anti-government demonstrations to 10, authorities said on Saturday.
Several “yellow vest” demonstrations were expected across France on Saturday, including a march in the formal royal city of Versailles, whose castle is a symbol of French state power and one of Europe’s top tourist attractions.
But very few people gathered in Versailles and there were far fewer demonstrators in the streets of Paris than in previous weeks, according to Reuters witnesses and news channels BFM and CNews.
Dozens marched through the streets of Montmartre near the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, another tourist landmark, shouting: “Parisians, join us!” Other protesters called for the resignation of president Emmanuel Macron.
About 800 people were demonstrating in Paris at about 11am GMT and there had been no incidents of violence or arrests, police said. This compares with about 4,000 demonstrators at the same time last Saturday.
Three weeks ago the protests in Paris turned into some of the worst unrest seen in the capital since 1968. Cars were set on fire, the windows of banks and insurance offices were smashed and street furniture was vandalised.
Of the 10 deaths linked to the protests, most have been the result of road accidents.
The driver who died in the accident near Perpignan on Friday evening, which occurred at a roundabout blocked off by protesters, was a 36-year-old man, a police source told Reuters.
The “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) protests – named after the high-visibility jackets French motorists must carry in their cars – began in mid-November to rally against fuel tax increases before growing into a wider movement against the liberal economic reform policy of Mr Macron, who made tax and salary concessions earlier this month to stem the demonstrations.
The movement has gradually lost steam in recent weeks, with just 66,000 people taking part in protests nationwide last Saturday compared with nearly 300,000 on November 17th. – Reuters