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France

'Expect disorder' on New Year's Eve, says French interior minister

media A Yellow Vest demonstrator on the Champs-Elysées, Paris, 22 December, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Nearly 150,000 police are to spend New Year's eve on duty across France, as Yellow Vest protesters look set to ring in 2019 with another round of anti-government demonstrations.

The coming of the New Year will be under tight surveillance in Paris, where 12,000 police are to be deployed.

A security perimeter was set up late Monday afternoon around Paris' Champs-Elysées avenue and the Arc de Triomphe.

The popular tourist sites have been the stage of violent clashes between rioters and police during recent Yellow Vest demonstrations.

On New Year's Eve, alcohol and pyrotechnics have been prohibited inside the security perimeter at these locations.

Die-hard yellow vest supporters believe the movement will live on in 2019 REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

'Expect disorder'

The Interior Ministry says extra security across France (nearly 150,000 in all) will focus on popular gathering spots, public transportation, roads and shopping areas.

"What can we expect? Disorder," Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters as he visited a fire station in Paris.

"What I see with the Yellow Vests is the intent to do harm and not just not to demonstrate."

'Festive and non-violent'

The gilets jaunes have become split between peaceful protesters, many willing to engage in dialogue with the government, and others intent on remaining at the barricades. Added into the equation are rioters, not directly linked to the Yellow Vests, who have been criticised for attempting to hijack the movement.

At the height of the movement, scenes resembling war zones were broadcast worldwide, showing violent clashes and chaos in central Paris with vehicles and shopfronts set ablaze.

Yellow Vest numbers have dwindled into the Christmas season, but several thousand are listed on Facebook as planning to attend what the movement calls a "festive and non-violent event" on the Champs Elysées for New Year's Eve.

>> See RFI's coverage on the Yellow Vest movement

 
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