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Yellow Vests' protests participants drops to lowest number yet

media Protesters wearing yellow vests walk down the Champs Elysees during the 17th weekend demonstration by the "Gilets Jaunes" movement in Paris, France, March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Official figures said that fewer people than ever joined the Yellow Vests demonstrations in France on Saturday, the 17th consecutive weekend of anti-government protest. The Interior Ministry counted 28,600 protestors country-wide, of which 3000 were in Paris.


The lowest turnout prior to this weekend was on during the year-end holidays when 32,000 protestors blocked roundabouts.

Rallied mainly by social networks, numbers have been gradually dropping off.

However, a thousands marched peacefully from the right bank down the Champs-Elysées to the Luxembourg Gardens on the Left Bank in central Paris where a number of métro stations were closed for the day.

They were joined by a new group of protester, this time in pink-jackets. The new colour has been introduced by kindergarten monitors who are angry at a proposed reform which will bite into their occasional social security benefits.

Womens' rights groups also took part, following up on 8 March, International Womens' Day's calls for gender parity and more protection from sexual harrassment and domestic violence.

Police said 19 people were arrested in Paris for insulting behaviour, committing violent acts, or carrying weapons, while in the cities of Lyon and Bordeaux some incidents were reported.

Alongside the habitual general protests, the Yellow Vests gathered on Saturday to show opposition to a specific government plan.

Seeking to diversify their range of action, they attacked the government's aim to privatise further ADP, the firm which manages the Roissy Charles de Gaulle, Le Bourget and Orly airports. The French state is ADP's majority shareholder.It was partly privatised in 2005.

Philippe de Veulle is one of the Yellow Vests  lawyers at the demonstration at Roissy. He says that ADP's profits should go to the state, not to private shareholders.

“We don’t understand why the state wants to get rid of an enterprise which can be developed. And which will expand. This is the type of niche which is generates more revenues.

"Today, it’s 187 million euros, and perhaps in ten years perhaps as much as 280 million euros or more which the state could use to finance concrete things maybe to help the poorest people, and also to develop. We’re attached to these, economic assets, which are our family jewels.”

The opposition are against the government's Pacte Bill, and the Senate rejected the bill last month. A revised bill is due back for a vote in the lower house of parliament on Wednesday 13 March.

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