Paris police have banned city rallies in areas around key government sites in a bid to end protests against France’s plan to raise the state’s retirement age by two years without voting.
“Because of the serious risks of disturbing public order and security… any gathering in and around the Place de la Concorde as well as in the Avenue des Champs-Elysées area is prohibited,” the police said, according to a report by the AFP. “People who try to gather there will be systematically evicted by the police.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has decided to pass new legislation, which would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, using Article 49.3 of the constitution, which allows him to pass a law without a parliamentary vote. His decision proved deeply unpopular, prompting nationwide protests.
Protesters have gathered in cities including Bordeau, Marseille and elsewhere as they continue to demand a vote, which Macron doesn’t appear confident will pass.
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Despite the Paris ban, protests nonetheless continued on Saturday, gathering instead in the Les Halles shopping area in central Paris, according to Politico.
More than eight in 10 people are unhappy with the government’s decision to skip a vote in parliament and 65 per cent want strikes and protests to continue, according to a Toluna Harris Interactive poll for RTL radio.
The protests have affected a number of vital industries, including refineries, waste collection and railways, reported The Guardian.
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CGT union leader Philippe Martinez said the group made it clear to Macron that the protests would continue as long as he pursued his plan to pass the legislation.
“No one can say we didn’t say anything: we told them,” Martinez said, adding that “the situation was explosive.”
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The street protests were largely peaceful, but police clashed with protesters on Friday night, with 61 people arrested after a fire was started near the national assembly. Protesters chanted “Macron, step down!” as they lined up against a line of riot police.
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More than 300 people have been arrested nationwide, including 258 in the area around the national assembly in recent days.
A broad alliance of key French unions said they would continue to try to force a U-turn on the changes.
Reuters contributed to this report.