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France

Thousands rally against Macron after Paris's stormy May Day

media Protesters hold placards declaring "For peace" and "For human progress" on the Paris rally on Saturday AFP

Thousands of people turned out for a "Macron party" in protest at government policies in Paris on Saturday afternoon, despite official warnings that there could be a repetition of the violence during Tuesday's May Day demonstration.

One person arrested during the May Day protests was fined 1,000 euros for possession of a smoke bomb on Friday, two were released without charge and seven people charged with criminal damage or participation in a group aiming to commit violence.

The seven were released under judicial control with a ban on entering the Paris region ahead of their trials.

Two women and a Belgian homeless man were detained for refusing to undergo DNA tests and will face trial in three weeks' time.

The authorities say over 1,000 Black Bloc anarchists joined the May Day protest seeking to attack symbols of capitalism, such as a McDonalds outlet that was set on fire and the police themselves.

The suspects who appeared in court on Friday were accused of vandalising a bank and a clothes shop.

A total 283 people were arrested on the day and 102 kept in detention, although about 50 were released on Wednesday.

Macron accuses left of incitement to violence

France Unbowed MP Mathilde Panot talks to RFI's Frédéric Rivière

The organisers of Saturday's protests in Paris and several other French cities promised a "festive" and peaceful atmosphere, with floats mocking President Emmanuel Macron on the Paris march, a rally in front of the offices of bosses' union Medef in Toulouse and a picnic on the beach.

Striking railworkers and other trade unionists joined political activists to oppose government policies they believe favour the rich and the expense of the majority.

During the week Macron and his supporters accused left-wing critics of stirring up disorder with radical rhetoric and the police announced that 2,000 officers would be on duty.

Economy Minister Gérald Darmanin accused hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon of employing the "methods of the extreme right" with a demonstration that was "inciting violence".

Mélenchon hit back with an assertion that his France Unbowed (LFI) party is "absolutely for non-violence", accusing the president's supporters of getting into a "frenzy" against LFI.

"We are an assembly that condemns violence and above all the verbal violence of the all-powerful," Mélenchon told the crowd on Saturday, criticising ministers' accusations that rail workers were privileged and condemning the deaths of the homeless people and other social disparities.

A French media count put the crowd in Paris at 38,900 people, the police gave the figure of 40,000 and France Unbowed 160,000.

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