Violent Clashes Erupt in France During Anti-Macron Pension Protests

Tue Mar 28 2023
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PARIS: New violent clashes erupted in France Tuesday between protesters and police as tens of thousands took to the streets to show their anger against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform, which sparked the biggest crisis of his second mandate.

The day full of action is the tenth since protests and strikes began in mid-January against the new law, which includes raising the retirement age from 62 years to 64 years.

The protest movement has become a major challenge to President Macron, who won a second term in elections last year.

Last Thursday saw the most violent clashes between protesters and security forces as tensions erupted into battles on the streets of Paris.

The police officials have also been accused of using force — both by protesters and rights bodies, including the Council of Europe –which has fuelled demonstrators’ anger.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said nearly 13,000 members of the security forces were being deployed on Tuesday — some 5,500 of them in Paris alone.

In western Nantes city, protesters threw projectiles at security forces who responded with tear gas. A bank branch and rubbish bins around the city court were set on fire.

In Lyon in southeastern France, police used water cannons and employed tear gas in the northern Lille city after protesters caused damage, including smashing a bus stop’s glass.

In the capital city, police fired tear gas and launched a charge after some protesters, dressed in black with their faces covered, raided a grocery shop and then sparked a fire as the protest march closed in on Place de la Nation in the city.

Paris police said at least 22 people were detained in the capital by the afternoon.

Protesters stop trains in France

Protesters stopped trains at Gare de Lyon station in Paris, walking on the railway track and lighting flares in what they described as a show of solidarity for a railway employee who lost an eye in a previous protest.

Rubbish collectors in Paris are from Wednesday suspending a three-week strike that has seen thousands of tonnes of garbage accumulate in the French capital, the CGT union said.

But it said this move allowed coordination with workers “so we can go on strike again even more strongly” as less workers were now striking.

Nearly two weeks after President Macron forced the new pensions law through parliament using a special provision, unions have vowed no let-up in mass protests to get the Macron government to back down.

The unrest postponed a state visit to France by Britain’s King Charles III, which had begun on Sunday.

The Louvre in Paris, the most visited museum in the world, was closed on Monday after workers blocked entry. The Eiffel Tower in Paris was shut on Tuesday as on previous strike days.

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