France suspends tax hikes amid riots
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 12/04/18, 10:30 am
French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe on Tuesday suspended a nationwide fuel tax and utility hike that had triggered protests and deadly riots since mid-November. In a televised address, Philippe said the government will delay the increases, scheduled for January, until this summer: “No tax is worth putting the nation’s unity in danger.” Protesters last weekend burned cars and looted shops in the worst unrest on the streets of Paris in decades. More than 100 people were injured and 412 people were arrested when demonstrations in Paris last weekend turned violent. One woman died Saturday after a protester threw a tear gas canister through her apartment window and struck her. Police said three others have died since the demonstrations began in mid-November.
The tax suspension was a U-turn after the government said three weeks ago it wouldn’t change course on the increases, intended to wean French consumers off fossil fuels. But protesters were not deterred and continued to block several fuel depots on Tuesday after the announcement. “It’s a first step, but we will not settle for a crumb,” said Benjamin Cauchy, a protest leader. The French professional soccer league postponed a Saturday game amid fears the police would not be able to provide security for fans if protesters take to the streets again this weekend.
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Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.