France's Macron pledges strong response after violent "Yellow Vest" protest

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-17 20:58:18|Editor: Lu Hui
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PARIS, March 17 (Xinhua) -- French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to take "strong decisions" to prevent weekly "Yellow Vest" protests from turning violent after rioters ran amok across Paris on Saturday.

"I want us to very precisely analyze things and as quickly as possible take strong, complementary decisions so this doesn't happen again," the president told ministers late on Saturday.

"We are attached to constitutional rights, but we've got people who through all means quite simply want to make a wreck of the republic, to break things and destroy, running the risk of getting people killed," Macron explained.

Saturday's violent protest forced the French president to cut short a weekend ski trip in the Pyrenees to chair a crisis meeting with ministers on Saturday night after groups of masked individuals, identified as far-left Black Blocs, plunged the capital's landmark avenue into chaos.

Anti-riot officers fired stun grenades, tear gas and water cannons at "ultra violent" rioters who torched cars and buildings, looted clothing shops, smashed windows of boutiques in the capital's fanciest shopping districts.

In Paris, police said they had detained almost 280 people, while 60 were injured, including 17 members of the security forces.

It was the latest in a series of weekly demonstrations, coordinated by "Yellow Vest," a spontaneous movement that began in November 2018 against dwindling purchasing power.

The latest protest which organizers called as an "ultimatum" to Macron drew 32,300 participants, compared with 28,600 numbered last week, but far below the turnout of 287,710 participants reported at its start.

It also marked the end of the national consultations with which the 41-year-old president tried to head off the social uprising.

Started on Jan. 15, long debates in city halls across French cities and a marathon of meetings with citizens in rural areas seemed helping France's youngest head of state in modern history to improve his score and appease discontent people, according to the country's pollsters.

However, renewed violence in the movement's 18th action in a row, cast doubt on his political craftiness to quell public anger, suggesting that the end of the showdown between the government and some determined "Yellow Vest" protestors is not near.