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France

Yellow Vest protesters on the rise across France

media Though the number of protesters for 'Act 9' of the Yellow Vest movement was more than last week, it fell largely short of the nearly 300,000 demonstrators two months ago (Photo of protesters on January 12, 2019 in Paris) AFP/Ludovic Marin

Some 84,000 Yellow Vest demonstrators turned out across France on Saturday for new protests. Numbers were higher than last week, with a marked decline in violence.

Around 32,000 people had hit the streets nationwide as of 2:00 pm (1300 GMT), the interior ministry said, up from 26,000 last week but still far below the nearly 300,000 when the "yellow vest" protests began two months ago.

>> As it happened: RFI's live coverage of the 9th round of Yellow Vest protests.

There was a marked decline in violence despite dozens of arrests and clashes with police in Paris and other cities.

However, French media reported isolated cases of violence against at journalists

The ninth round of "yellow vest" rallies since November began calmly amid a heavy police deployment of some 80,000 officers nationwide, including 5,000 in the capital.

Many sang the "Marseillaise" national anthem, while others shouted "Macron resign!" or "Free Christophe," a reference to the ex-boxer filmed viciously beating two officers during last week's protest.

For the first time organisers of the Paris march deployed teams wearing white arm bands to corral the march that began near the Place de la Bastille.

Acte IX : le cortège des «gilets jaunes» place de la Bastille, le 12 décembre 2019. AFP/Bertrand Guay

Clashes at the Arc de Triopmphe

Scores of protesters later clashed with riot police at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, prompting volleys of tear gas and water cannon as security forces prevented them from reaching the heavily fortified Champs-Elysees.

The protesters began to disperse as night fell, however, and police began removing armoured vehicles and trucks in an atmosphere of relative calm.

Protesters wearing yellow vests participate in pro-Brexit demonstration march in central London, Britain January 12, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

In Paris,  the prosecutor's office said 74 people had been detained for questioning by the afternoon, well above the 35 detained last Saturday, as participation rose to some 8,000 protesters from 3,500 last week.

Dozens were also arrested elsewhere including the central city of Bourges, the site of another major rally aimed at drawing people farther from the capital.

"We want parliament dissolved. Macron has to stop ignoring us and realise how bad things are," said William Lebrethon, a 59-year-old construction worker amid signs saying "Macron resign!" and "France is angry."

A few hundred protesters later burned trash cans amid cat-and-mouse clashes with police in Bourges' historic centre, and skirmishes also broke out in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and other cities.
 

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