France introduces 6-month moratorium on fuel tax increases
YEREVAN, DECEMBER 4, ARMENPRESS. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced a six-month suspension of the fuel tax hike which triggered massive unrest across the country, saying the measure is aimed at stopping the violence and restoring public order, RT reports.
The French government will suspend the fuel tax rise for six months to calm down the Yellow Vest protests, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in a televised speech on Tuesday. He stressed that no tax should endanger public unity and “the violence must stop.”
Philippe said the protests represented “the anger of the France that works hard and struggles to make ends meet.” Despite the concessions, he slammed rioters who assaulted police, saying they will be found and put on trial.
“This anger, you’d have to be deaf or blind not to see it or hear it,” Philippe said in an address. “The French who have donned yellow vests want taxes to drop, and work to pay. That’s also what we want,” the Prime Minister maintained.
The fuel taxes will not rise until they are debated by all stakeholders and the French people. He also promised to increase the minimum wage by 3 percent next year and direct the government to focus on improving living standards.
Earlier on Monday, Total said several dozen of its gas stations in France had run dry as a more than two-week long protest over fuel tax hikes began to impact fuel reserves and distribution, Reuters reported.
A Total spokesman said “yellow vest” protesters — so-called because of the high-visibility jackets they wear and which must be carried in all vehicles in France — were obstructing access to 11 fuel depots.
As a result of the unrest, some 75 fuel stations out of the company’s 2,200-strong network across the country were empty because they could not receive supplies, the spokesman added.
The Yellow Vests demonstrators in France previously demanded the resignation of the government and the appointment of Army General Pierre de Villiers, a former Chief of the Defense Staff, as prime minister.
The protesters said that the general has a reputation and he needs to lead the government.
Villiers, who led the Defense Staff from 2014 to 2017, stepped down on 19 July 2017 due to disagreements with President Emmanuel Macron, mainly due to cuts in military budget.
At that time, numerous politicians criticized Macron because the general had a very high approval rating both among the society and the political arena.
Protesters angry about rising fuel taxes clashed with French police for a third straight weekend and scores were arrested after demonstrators, known as the Yellow Vests, built barricades in central Paris, lit fires and threw rocks at officers Saturday, France24 reported.
Approximately 75,000 protesters took to the streets across the country in the weekend, the French interior ministry said.
On Saturday, around 400 protesters were arrested in Paris.
More than 130 people, including 23 police officers were injured.
Authorities have deployed thousands of backup police forces into Paris.