French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced the suspension of fuel tax hikes which triggered massive unrest across the country.
The French government will suspend the fuel tax rise for six months to calm down the “Yellow Vest” protests, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in a televised speech broadcast on Tuesday. He stressed that no tax should endanger public unity and “the violence must stop.”
France’s government officially canceled a meeting with Yellow Vest protestors scheduled for Tuesday, France24 reported.
Philippe’s office has said the prime minister would announce some “measures” favoring the protesters. Culture Minister Franck Riester previously told reporters Philippe may make “a strong conciliatory gesture in the coming days,” but did not provide any details.
Earlier on Monday, it emerged that protesters representing the movement have pulled out of the planned meeting with the Prime Minister. Two of the protest leaders, Jacline Mouraud and Benjamin Cauchy, told AFP they had received threats from hardline protesters who warned them against entering into dialogue with the government.
he “Yellow Vests” have been protesting about a controversial fuel tax since mid-November. Massive rallies hit Paris and France’s major cities, with protesters demanding to drop the tax rise.
President Emmanuel Macron repeatedly said he will not back down on taxes, but on Monday the government signaled that it is ready to make some concessions. Also that day, he held an urgent security meeting and cancelled a planned visit to Serbia to tackle the crisis.
The protests quickly spread across France, sometimes snowballing into major clashes between police and rioters. In late November, the Yellow Vest rallies in Paris quickly descended into chaos turning city streets into a ‘warzone’. Numerous cars and trash bins were torched, and windows were smashed.
The French government mulled a state of emergency on the back of Paris riots, but Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said that was “not on the table for now.”
Experts suggested the protests are targeting government policies in general rather than fuel taxes as such. Jean Bricmont, a French writer and political commentator, told RT there is not much that French authorities could do to defuse tensions as Paris “has to obey the orders from the European Commission.”
Bricmont suggested that Macron “doesn’t realize the depth of the crisis” and has nothing to offer to resolve it. Two-thirds of the French support the upheaval, according to a new poll by OpinionWay. The survey asked over 1000 people and 66 percent answered that they stand for the protesters.