Macron's government 'to suspend' fuel tax hike

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The French government is preparing to suspend fuel tax increases planned for January 1 in a move to end violent “yellow vest” protests against the measure, a government source said on Tuesday.

Le Monde newspaper and France Info radio said the planned increase will be suspended for several months. 

“It’s a first step, but we will not settle for a crumb,” said Benjamin Cauchy, one of the leaders of the protests.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right party National Rally (formerly the National Front), tweeted: “A moratorium on taxes is being considered. But a moratorium is only a postponement.”  

Republican Senator Bruno Retailleau described the moratorium as a reprieve and “absolutely inadequate.” He said the French people called for “a cancellation.” 

A demonstrator holds a French flag during clashes with riot police (picture alliance/dpa/L. Tanguy)

More than 100 people were injured in Paris and 412 arrested over the weekend during France’s worst urban riot in years.

Read more: France’s ‘yellow vest’ protesters clash with riot police 

Police ‘violence’ probe opened 

Meanwhile, the Paris Public Prosecutors Office said it has started an investigation into “violence by persons holding public authority” after a video was broadcast on social networks showing a man apparently being beaten up by eight police officers on Saturday. 

Running urban battles

Over the weekend, protesters set fire to dozens of cars and several storefronts along the Champs Elysees. The Arc de Triomphe was sprayed with graffiti.

French President Emmanuel Macron had denounced the protests and vowed a tough response.

“I will never accept violence,” Macron said from the G20 summit in Argentina. “No cause justifies that authorities are attacked, that businesses are plundered, that passers-by or journalists are threatened or that the Arc de Triomphe is defiled.”

The protests descended into the worst urban violence France has seen in a decade. Police used water cannon to quash the unrest. 
Representatives of the “yellow vests” movement said on Monday that they would not attend proposed talks with Philippe for “security reasons.”   

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe canceled a planned trip to the COP24 climate conference in Poland on Sunday to meet with Macron over the unrest. Philippe is expected to announce the fuel tax suspension in a televised address following a meeting with lawmakers in his Republic on the Move party.

The planned tax would have raised gasoline price by 4 euro cents per liter. Gasoline currently costs about 1.42 euros ($1.62) a liter in Paris, slightly more than diesel. 

kw/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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