France retirement protests: Paris bans gatherings near key sites to quell unrest
Paris police have banned gatherings in the city’s spots in areas around important government sites in an effort to end protests against France’s plan to raise the state pension age by two years without a vote.
“Due to serious risks of disturbances to public order and security … any gathering at Place de la Concorde and its surroundings as well as in the area of the Avenue des Champs-Elysées is prohibited,” the police said, according to an AFP report. “People who try to gather there will be systematically evicted by the police.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has decided to push through the new legislation, which would raise the age of retirement from 62 to 64, using Article 49.3 of the constitution, which allows him to pass a law without a parliamentary vote. His decision has proven deeply unpopular, prompting nationwide protests.
Demonstrators gathered in cities including Bordeau, Marseille and elsewhere as they continue to demand the vote, which Macron does not seem confident would pass.
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Despite the Paris ban, protests continued on Saturday anyway, instead gathering in the shopping area Les Halles in the center of Paris, according to Politico.
More than eight out of 10 people are unhappy with the government’s decision to skip a vote in parliament, and 65% want strikes and protests to continue, a Toluna Harris Interactive poll for RTL radio showed.
The protests have hit a number of vital industries, including refineries, trash collection and railways, The Guardian reported.
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CGT Union leader Philippe Martinez stressed that the group made it clear to Macron that the protests would continue as long as he pursued his plan to ram the legislation through.
“No one can say we didn’t say anything: We told him,” Martinez said, adding that “the situation was explosive.”
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The street protests have been largely peaceful, but police clashed with demonstrators on Friday night, with 61 people arrested after a fire was lit near the national assembly. Demonstrators chanted “Macron, Resign!” as they squared off against a line of riot police.
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Over 300 people have been arrested nationwide, with 258 of them in the area around the national assembly over recent days.
A broad alliance of France’s main unions said they would continue to try and force a U-turn on the changes.
Reuters contributed to this report.