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FRANCE’S gilets jaunes (yellow jackets) movement held its 12th successive weekly protest on Saturday as thousands took to the streets in defiance of threats that rubber balls could be fired at them by police.
Anger continues to grow, with demands for unpopular President Emmanuel Macron to resign and call fresh elections and widespread rejection of his neoliberal austerity programme.
Authorities have responded harshly to the protests. A French court ruled on Friday that police could continue to launch rubber projectiles the size of golf balls at demonstrators, despite concerns that they can cause injuries including lost eyes and broken limbs.
The judge in France’s top administrative court authorised the use of the “defence ball launchers,” claiming it was “necessary to allow police to use these weapons” because the protests were “frequently the occasion for acts of violence and destruction.”
Mr Macron has been forced into offering concessions, including an increase in the minimum wage and a U-turn on the fuel tax that sparked the protests in November.
Despite branding the protesters thugs and comparing them to football hooligans, Mr Macron claimed last week that he was, in fact, himself a “gilet jaune … if it meant being in favour of better salaries and having a more effective parliament.”
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