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French govt gives in to protesters, suspends fuel tax hike

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is due to announce the move later on Tuesday, local media reported

Tuesday December 4, 2018 5:33 PM, ummid.com News Network

French Fuel Tax Hike Suspended

Paris: The French government will on Tuesday announce the suspension of fuel tax increases in a bid to quell fierce protests which have ballooned into the deepest crisis of Emmanuel Macron's presidency, political sources said.

Citing government sources, daily newspaper Le Monde and Reuters news agency said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was due to announce the move later on Tuesday. The suspension will last "several months" and was aimed at appeasing the so-called "yellow vest" protesters, Le Monde said.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will also unveil other measures to help boost the living standards of low-income households in a television address, his office confirmed, according to AFP.

"We need to calm the situation down to prevent it degenerating," Philippe told a meeting of MPs from the ruling majority on Tuesday, several people present told AFP.

The "yellow vests" demonstrations, which began on November 17, were originally spurred by a squeeze on household spending brought about by Macron's taxes on diesel, which he says are necessary to combat climate change and protect the environment.

However, they have since evolved into a bigger, general anti-Macron uprising, with many criticising the president for pursuing policies they claim favour the richest members of French society.

Protests in Paris on Saturday turned particularly violent, with the famed Arc de Triomphe defaced and avenues off the capital's Champs Elysees suffering damage.

Four people have been killed in the three-week-long nationwide protests, including an 80-year-old woman who died in hospital on Sunday after being hit by a tear gas canister in Marseille.

The demonstrations have been given the "yellow vest" tag due to the fluorescent jackets kept in all vehicles in France, and are estimated to have cost millions to the economy.

Meanwhile, far-right leader Marine Le Pen, a vocal supporter of the movement, said on Twitter that protesters wanted the fuel tax hike cancelled, not just suspended.

Rescinding the increase was the main demand of the demonstrators, alongside a higher minimum wage and the return of a wealth tax on high-earners which was abolished last year.

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