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French govt moots further concessions to pacify protesters

French govt moots further concessions to pacify protesters

Trash bins burn as youths and high-school students attend a demonstration against the French government's reform plan in Marseille Thursday.

Anticipating a fourth straight weekend of violent protests, France on Friday mobilized armored vehicles and thousands of police, cordoned off Paris' broad boulevards and made plans to shut down tourist sites like the Eiffel Tower and Louvre.

The French government indicated on Wednesday that it was willing to make further concessions to the "yellow vest" protesters.

With government officials reportedly fearing a "coup attempt", the state has dramatically expanded police presence, hoping to avoid a repeat of the violence and destruction that rocked the capital last weekend. Officers have also been instructed to directly engage with protesters, prompting fears of violence above and beyond that of last weekend.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday, announced the suspension of fuel taxes for the next six months, in order to ease the tension created by "yellow vest" protesters movement, which has radicalized Paris.

The French government proposed to tax carbon, which would have added about 15 cents a gallon to the price of gasoline, or a little less than 3 percent, starting January 1.

Paris police asked dozens of shop and restaurant owners around the Champs Elysees and Bastille areas to close on Saturday and requested local authorities in 15 areas around the capital to remove anything in the streets that could be used as projectiles.

Both the Garnier opera house in central Paris and the Bastille opera, which sits on a square which has traditionally been the site of demonstrations, have cancelled performances scheduled for Saturday.

Macron said the higher tax was his way of trying to prevent the end of the world.

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Some 72 per cent continue to support the movement - figures which have remained stable despite the violence last weekend and the government's climbdown.

As French President Emmanuel Macron faces the biggest crisis of his presidency - in the form of massive, and frequently violent, widespread protests - his government is frantically backtracking on a controversial gas tax detested by demonstrators and considering shifting the tax burden to the rich.

The Elabe survey of 1,002 people was carried out online Tuesday and Wednesday for BFM television.

"We can not let these rebels continue to threaten the nation", Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said Thursday.

Protests continued Wednesday, with petrol depots, service stations, and shopping centres among the targets of the "yellow vests" or "gilets jaunes" - so named for the high-visibility road safety jackets they wear.

On Thursday a yellow-vest representative, Benjamin Cauchy, called on Macron to meet a delegation of protesters Friday to help defuse a situation that he said had brought the country "to the brink of insurrection and civil war". "What we are asking of you Mr".

Macron, whose approval ratings are down to just 23 percent, is yet to comment publicly since returning to France from a G20 summit in Argentina on Sunday morning.

Had the government and President reacted immediately three weeks ago to discontent with the fuel tax, tensions would nearly certainly have been soothed.

One of the main measures implemented by the French government to boost business and investment after Macron's election previous year was to set a flat tax of 30 percent on all capital income and remove the top marginal band of payroll tax. But to grasp the real significance of the social unrest going on, it is necessary to stop for a moment and closely analyze this so-called movement of the "yellow vests".