‘Yellow vest’ protesters back on streets

Paris: France’s “yellow vest” protesters were back on the streets again on Saturday as a government spokesman denounced those still protesting as hardliners who wanted only to bring down the government.
Several hundred protesters gathered on the Champs Elysees in central Paris, where around 15 police wagons were also deployed, an AFP journalist said. Marches were underway in several other cities across France.
On Friday, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux denounced those still protesting as “agitators who want insurrection and, basically, to overthrow the government”.
This is the eighth Saturday of protests called by the grassroots movement. The numbers turning out have fallen steadily since the start of the demonstrations in November.
But the arrest on Wednesday of Eric Drouet, one the movement’s spokesman, sparked anger among his supporters. Paris police picked up Drouet, who already faces trial for carrying a weapon at a previous demonstration, and detained him for around 10 hours.
In Paris, organisers called for a march from the City Hall to the National Assembly (parliament) building, and a rally on the Champs Elysees, the scene of violent clashes at previous demonstrations.
The latest opinion poll, published on Thursday by Odoxa Dentsu, indicated 55 per cent public support for the “yellow vest” protests.
The government has deployed police around France to deal with the protests, backed up by specialist response units, sources said. — AFP