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France

Yellow Vests: low turnout for 7th weekend of protests

media A member of the "yellow vests" movement in Nantes on December 29, 2018 JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP

Sporadic clashes broke out Saturday during Yellow Vest protests in Paris and elsewhere in France, but the momentum for the movement appears to be waning.

Fewer than a thousand Yellow Vests gathered in the capital Paris, Marseille, and Nantes on Saturday afternoon.

In Bordeaux the turnout was higher, as some 2,400 people turned out, shouting, "Macron resign!”

Clashes broke out as demonstrators gathered west of central Paris, with riot police firing tear gas to disperse them.

Hundreds of demonstrators, some chanting "Journalists – collaborators!" gathered at the headquarters of television networks BFM and state-run France Televisions.

Some members of the broad-based Yellow Vest movement accuse leading media of being sympathetic to President Emmanuel Macron's government and to big businesses, thus minimising the protests.

Some "yellow vests" in front of France Televisions headquarters on December 29th in Paris Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP

However, the Yellow Vests have been France's top news story since the movement kicked off on 17 November.

The initial protests were against a new fuel tax which was later suspended by the French government.

In the city of Rouen, police used tear gas and stun grenades against a thousand protesters, according to official figures.

At the Banque de France, Rouen's state-run bank, protesters burnt down the main door by setting alight stockpiled garbage bins.

Movement dying out?

Overall, the movement seems to be on a downward path.

38,600 yellow vests took on the streets on December 22.

There were 66,000 protesters last week and 282,000 for the first day of demonstrations on 17 November, according to government figures.

However, several members of the movement say the decline is only due to the holiday season and predict a high turnout in January, despite measures by President Macron to calm the movement.

New protests are expected on Paris' Champs-Elysees on New Year's Eve, amid a lights display that typically attracts large crowds of spectators.

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