AFP: France's yellow vest protesters gather on decisive weekend15 December 2018 | 11:27 | FOCUS News Agency
President Emmanuel Macron, facing the biggest crisis of his presidency, announced a series of concessions on Monday to defuse the explosive "yellow vest" movement which sprang up in rural and small-town France last month.
He is hoping for the package of minimum wage measures, coupled with a terror attack on Tuesday night in Strasbourg.
The last three Saturdays have been marked by violent demonstrations, with burning barricades, pillaging and clashes with police in cities across France.
"Last time, we were here for taxes," a 28-year-old called Jeremy told AFP he joined the gathering on the Champs-Elysées shortly after 8:00 am (0700 GMT)
"This is for the institutions: we want more direct democracy," he said, adding that people needed to "shout to make themselves heard."
The "yellow vests" have made dozens of demands of the government.
Until now, a clear majority of French people had backed up the protests, which sprung up initially over tax hikes on transport fuel before snowballing into wide opposition to Macron's pro-business agenda and style of governing.
But two polls published on Tuesday - in the wake of Macron's concessions - found the country was now split broadly 50-50 on whether the protests should continue.
"We expect a little more people," Laurent Nunez said late late Friday.
Around 8,000 police will be on duty in Paris on Saturday, the same number as last weekend, backed up by 14 armed vehicles, water cannons and horses which are used for crowd control.
Around 90,000 security forces were mobilized last Saturday across France and 2,000 people were detained, around half of them in Paris.
"That people demonstrate, no problem, but the vandalism is appalling," Maria, who manages the Wine Heart restaurant near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris told AFP on Saturday morning.
Like thousands of other business and restaurant owners across the capital, she was apprehensive and ready to pull down her shutters and close to the first whiff of teargas.
- Need for calm -
Many of the "yellow jackets" figureheads, along with leaders of the far-left Unbowed France party, have urged protesters to turn over on Saturday to pressure the government into making further concessions.
Others have suggested that the town should be more important than rural areas.
France, Macron said Friday.
On Thursday, spokesman spokesman Benjamin Griveaux had called on protesters to stay put.
"It would be better if they could go about their business calmly on Saturday, before celebrating with their families, instead of demonstrating and putting our security forces to work again," he said.
He was speaking in the wake of an attack Tuesday in the eastern city of Strasbourg, which left four dead and 12 wounded.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner also criticized attacks on the police at a time when the terror threat remains high in France after a string of atrocities since 2015.
"I find it inadmissable that we are applauding our police and then tomorrow some people think it's okay to go and throw stones at them," Castaner said on Friday morning after the gunman in the Strasbourg attack was found dead and shot.
In a bid to end the protests, Macron announced a $ 15 trillion ($ 17 trillion) on Monday.
He canceled the planned fuel tax hikes, offered in the minimum wage, tax relief for pensioners and tax-free overtime for workers in 2019.
Images of road blocks, massive traffic jams and mobs rioting on the streets of Paris, France, France, Macron's hopes of forcing through more business-friendly reforms, say analysts.
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