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Yellow Vests warn of Easter rising ahead of huge day of protest

media Yellow Vest protesters in Toulouse surrounded by tear gas during a demonstration on 13 April, 2019. Pascal PAVANI / AFP

At least 31,000 Yellow Vests took to the streets of France, Saturday, for mostly peaceful demonstrations that are being billed as a “warm up” to a massive day of protest next week when President Emmanuel Macron lays out the findings of his national great debate.

French media labelled yesterday's protests “the calm before the storm” ahead of so-called “Act 23” or "Ultimatum 2" protests on 20 April – which marks the movement’s five-month anniversary – and will deliver a response to Macron’s 10-week nationwide debate with citizens on how to address the country’s problems.

With the President due to set out his conclusions over the coming days, the Yellow Vests are already anticipating his failure.

Also known as the gilets jaunes, the Yellow Vests have contested the official Interior Ministry figure of 31,000 protesters across France yesterday, putting turnout at more than 80,000 people nationwide, according to their Facebook page.

It was a revival of sorts for the grassroots movement, with protest numbers picking up for the first demonstrations held under France’s new "anti-rioters" laws – which hands greater powers to security forces. A week earlier the Yellow Vests had seen their lowest turnout since protests began four months ago.

A rally in Toulouse – designated the “capital” of Saturday’s demonstration – was marked by clashes between protesters and police, who used teargas, sound grenades and water cannon to push back an estimated 4,500 Yellow Vests. Fourteen people were taken to hospital suffering injuries, while 37 people were arrested.

Official figures show some 5,000 protesters turned out in Paris – up from 3,500 a week ago – with police making 27 arrests. Protests were banned in and around the Champs-Elysées Avenue, where anarchists sacked and burned shops last month.

Emmanuel Macron, ce jeudi 4 avril 2019, à Cozzano (Corse-du-sud) pour le dernier grand débat national. Ludovic MARIN / AFP















Some protesters were taken into custody for concealing their faces – an act that was made a criminal offence under the anti-rioter legislation – while others were arrested for throwing projectiles or carrying weapons.

Elsewhere, marches were held in Nantes, Lille, Rouen, Caen, Marseille and Montpellier.


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