France Violence: Government bow to pressure, cancel fuel hikes

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Abideen Muhammed, Lagos

The government of France has responded to protesters and cancelled fuel tax hikes which were due in January following protests across the country. The protest which started on November 17, 2018 have claimed the life of four people, hundreds have been injured, and thousands of dollars’ worth of property has been damaged.

  • After more than two weeks of protests that have led to blocked roads, torched cars, looting and chaos in some of Paris’ wealthiest neighborhoods, France’s prime minister, Edouard Philippe suspended a fuel-tax hike on Tuesday, 4th December, 2018 for six months that triggered the demonstrations. Arc de Triomphe, one of France’s most revered landmarks, was damaged last weekend.

Philippe said the suspension of a new tax on fuel would last for six months and that planned increases to gas and electricity costs would also be temporary halted.

The move, announced live on TV by Edouard Philippe, is aimed at easing tensions after more than 100 people were injured and 400 arrested in Paris over the weekend amid “Yellow Jacket” protests.

He stressed that “no tax should endanger national unity” and the “violence must stop”.

News Sky confirmed that French President Emmanuel Macron , as part of his many economic reforms, announced the gas taxes earlier this year to minimize France’s reliance on fossil fuels.

The protest movement — now known as gilets jaunes, or “yellow vests” — has blockaded streets and highways, burned cars, and brawled with police in response to the price hike and demanded that French President Emmanuel Macron alter his approach to housing, health, education and the public purse.

Since winning France’s presidency last year, Macron has won praise for seeking to reform France’s labor laws but he has faced opposition from protesters who feel that the changes favor the wealthy. He recently slashed a longstanding wealth tax.

“Yellow Jacket” supporters claim that Macron’s government does not care about ordinary people or France’s growing social inequalities. Macron, 40, regarded as politically centrist, was elected on a pro-business platform.

“It’s a first step, but we will not settle for a crumb,” said Benjamin Cauchy, one of the leaders of the protests, according to comments carried by the Associated Press.

Opinion polls show that as the protests take place around 26% of French people hold a favorable opinion of Macron. His main rival, Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Rally – formerly National Front – has grown more popular amid the unrest.

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