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France

Yellow Vests call "yellow night" of protests in Act 11

media "Nuit jaune", the Yellow Vests yellow night event on 26 January 2019 facebook/Acte 11 : Première nocturne des Gilets Jaunes

France’s Yellow Vest movement is hoping to keep the heat on President Emmanuel Macron with calls for demonstrations to continue into the night for the 11th weekend of nationwide protests.

Four separate marches have been registered with the Paris prefecture for Saturday, with organisers urging members to converge on the central Place de la Republique at 5pm, where they hope to remain into the evening.

One of the founding members of the Yellow Vests, Priscillia Ludosky called on supporters to meet outside the overseas territories ministry and to march to the headquarters of Facebook in France.

"The overseas territories are not very well informed (about the Yellow Vest movement). I feel this is a good way to support them," Ludosky told RFI on the sidelines of Saturday's march.

Yellow Vests night event, 26 January 2019 Facebook

Several other nuit jaune, or yellow night rallies have been organised across France, including the southern cities of Montpellier and Orlon-Sainte-Marie, and Dunkerque in the north – which initiated the call.

Spotlight on violence

Security remains on high alert across the country, with a resurgence of violence feared in Bordeaux and Toulouse.

For the first time, police armed with flash ball and other non-lethal munitions will be equipped with body cameras, following an uproar over what many have denounced as excessive force by the security forces.

More than 2,000 people – both demonstrators and police – have been injured during the months of unrest.

Second wind

After participation dipped slightly in the new year, numbers attending the nationwide demonstrations have steadied over the past two weeks, with around 84,000 braving the winter conditions for Acts 9 and 10.

The Yellow Vests are hoping to maintain support on the street, ten days after President Macron launched his Great National Debate – two months of public discussions aimed at allowing French people to air their grievances with officials.

The gilets jaunes have largely dismissed the move as pointless – criticism boosted on Friday by a key member of Macron’s own team, Chantal Jouanno, the president of the Commission of National Public Debate (the CNDP), which is organising the debates.

"The people behind it are not independent from the state...it is all very vague and I am wary," Ludosky said.

However more than 1,600 events have been registered in the CNDP online debate platform granddebat.fr, and around 400 have already taken place.

Political ambition

This week the Yellow Vests announced their intention to field a list of candidates in European Parliament elections in May. Led by Ingrid Levavasseur, a 31 year old nursing assistant, they have called themselves the Ralliement d’Initiative Citoyenne (Citizens’ Initiative Rally), in a nod to the Referendum d’Initiative Citoyenne (RIC), a Yellow Vest proposal that would allow citizens to petition for a referendum without needing the consent of the parliament or president.

It’s the first move to politicise the grassroots movement, which has had no single recognised leader or programme, leading to divisive internal disputes as to who best represents the Yellow Vests.

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