Macron to give speech this week amid further violent protests

Fourth weekend of anti-government violence has shaken French president’s authority

Graffiti is seen on a vandalised Starbucks coffee shop following protests in Paris, France. Photograph: REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

Graffiti is seen on a vandalised Starbucks coffee shop following protests in Paris, France. Photograph: REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

 

French president Emmanuel Macron is set to make a major announcement in the coming week after further violence from “yellow vest” protesters, the government said on Sunday.

Anti-government protesters faced off with French riot police in Paris on Saturday, hurling projectiles, torching cars and vandalising shops and restaurants in a fourth weekend of unrest that has shaken Mr Macron’s authority.

The president is facing mounting criticism for not appearing in public in over a week as violence worsened. His last major address to the nation was on November 27th, when he said he would not be bounced into changing policy by “thugs”.

“The President of the Republic will of course make important announcements,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said on LCI television on Sunday. He gave no other details.

“However, not all the problems of the ‘yellow vest’ protesters will be solved by waving a magic wand,” Mr Griveaux said.

Following last week’s riots, the government offered a string of concessions to try and soothe public anger, scrapping fuel increases planned for January and freezing energy prices in the first major U-turn of Mr Macron’s presidency.

However, mindful of France’s deficit and not wanting to flout EU rules, the president has scant wriggle room for more concessions.

Mr Macron left it to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe to announce the first major U-turn of his presidency.

Mr Macron has already scrapped a planned fuel tax increase but the move has failed to end the “yellow vest” protest movement, which demands lower taxes, higher minimum wages and better pension benefits. – Reuters