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TENS of thousands of people protested across France yesterday, staging the eighth successive weekend of gilets jaunes (yellow jackets) actions, as the revitalised movement was accused of attempting an insurrection.
Large demonstrations took place in Toulouse, Lyon and other cities. In Paris, there were clashes as thousands of police mobilised across the city.
Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux warned of escalating violence after protesters attacked his offices, using a mechanical digger to smash down a door and enter the government compound.
“The gilets jaunes movement for those who are still mobilised has become the affair of agitators who want insurrection and, basically, to overthrow the government,” he said.
“They have engaged in a political battle to contest the legitimacy of the government and president. These people who call for debate don’t want to take part in our national debate. I call on them to participate.”
Mr Griveaux is angry that the concessions offered by beleaguered French President Emmanuel Macron – including a pause in the fuel tax which ignited the protests – have been rejected by the movement.
At least 10 people have been killed during the demonstrations. Yesterday’s was the first of the new year, with Interior Minister Christophe Castaner saying an estimated 50,000 took part across the country.
Mr Macron took aim at the movement in his new year message, attacking those whose claim to speak in the name of the people as “nothing but the voice of a hate-filled crowd.”
But in an open letter read out on yesterday, protesters said: “Anger will turn into hate if, from your pedestal, you and your like treat ordinary people like beggars, the toothless, those who are nothing.
“We come together. We can do better and we will do better. And, yes, we will go further,” the letter concluded.
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