Macron cancels Serbia trip amid Paris clashes, more enter streets

Macron cancels Serbia trip amid Paris clashes, more enter streets

Paris: France's presidential Elysee palace has confirmed that Emmanuel Macron's two-day foreign trip to Serbia this week is being postponed as a result of the weekend violence in Paris.

Macron was due to meet with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday. After a phone conversation on Monday, they agreed to reschedule the trip in the near future.

Under pressure: French President Emmanuel Macron.Credit:AP

Clashes between protesters and police officers took place again Monday on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, where demonstrations have been particularly violent in recent weeks.

Macron, just back from the Group of 20 summit in Argentina, held an emergency meeting Sunday on security. The government hasn't ruled out the possibility of imposing a state of emergency.

Saturday's rioting was the third straight weekend of clashes in Paris. The protests began last month with motorists upset over a fuel tax increase and have grown to include a range of complaints that Macron's government doesn't care about the problems of ordinary people.

Other protests in France remained peaceful.

A riot police officer uses his baton on a demonstrator during a demonstration at the Arc de Triomphe.Credit:AP

By Sunday, some of the most popular tourist streets in Paris were littered with torched cars and broken glass from looted shops, and the Arc de Triomphe monument was defaced by graffiti.

During Monday's protest by paramedics, some demonstrators set fire to a small pile of debris and blocked traffic. One activist held up a sign reading "The State killed me," and others chanted "Macron resign!"

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Macron have been criticised for their handling of the crisis.

After meeting with the prime minister, Socialist leader Olivier Faure urged Philippe to drop the tax increases and to restore a wealth tax that was slashed by the centrist government.

Stones lie on the highway leading to the airport in Sainte Marie, as protesters, called the “yellow jackets”, block the traffic while protesting against the rising of the fuel and oil prices, in the Indian Ocean island of Reunion.Credit:AP

"We want a change in the method. One needs to come down from Mount Olympus," Faure said, a reference to Macron's nickname of Jupiter, from the ancient Roman god.

Laurent Wauquiez, head of centre-right Les Republicains party, urged Macron to hold a referendum to end the crisis, although he didn't say what its topic should be.

"French people need to be heard again, and for that we must organise a referendum to decide these issues. Only these measures will restore calm," Wauquiez said.

Since the movement kicked off November 17, three people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes or accidents stemming from the protests.

A police car burns after clashes between police and protesters, in Marseille, southern France, on Saturday.Credit:AP

In the past three weeks, demonstrators have been setting up roadblocks across the country and their movement has won wide public support.

Philippe will try to defuse tensions before more possible protests this weekend, speaking with representatives of the yellow vest movement on Tuesday.

Members of the National Assembly will also hold talks on the crisis later this week. Meanwhile, the trade union CGT has called for a day of protest across France on December 14.


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