French drivers blocking roads to protest rising fuel taxes

French President Emmanuel Macron’s caution against rising nationalism is worth taking note

French President Emmanuel Macron’s caution against rising nationalism is worth taking note

French interior ministry officials say that one protester has been killed and 47 injured as demonstrators blocked roads around France to protest gas price increases.

It is believed the woman was killed by an accelerating vehicle, which was being blocked by drivers in the Savoie region, in demonstrations being seen as a new challenge to embattled President Emmanuel Macron. Two more people were hit by a auto and one of them suffered serious injuries in the northern city of Arras and were taken to the hospital, according to local media. An investigation was opened. In the northern town of Hazebrouck, a lorry driver mounted a pavement and injured two protesters. Officers have so far arrested 24 people, and 17 of them were taken into custody, according to the Interior Ministry, cited by BFM TV.

An estimated 50,000 demonstrators were participating in the protests, and some incidents occurred as drivers not taking part tried to get around the blockades, police sources said.

Police at first held back protesters from advancing on Paris' Champs-Elysees, with police vans blocking them from moving down the famed avenue. But up to 200 people were later seen walking down the street, apparently heading toward the Elysee presidential palace.

Protesters pledged to target tollbooths, roundabouts and the Paris orbital bypass on Saturday.

Wearing the safety hazard jackets drivers are mandated by law to carry in their auto, "Yellow Vests" are protesting the 23 per cent rise in diesel to €1.51 (£1.32/$1.71) per litre - the increase coming in a span of just 12 months and at its highest point since the early 2000s.

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The angry motorists" movement emerged in social networks; the "Yellow Jackets' are threatening to block roads throughout the country, demanding that the authorities reduce fuel taxes. Many drivers see them as emblematic of a presidency they view as disconnected from day-to-day economic difficulties and serving the rich.

- "President of the rich" - The movement enjoys much broader support than other protests since Macron swept to power a year ago, with 73 percent of respondents backing the protests in an Elabe poll this week.

Robert Tichit, 67, a retiree, referred to the president as "King Macron".

"We've had enough of it".

While President Macron puts three-quarters of the rise down to the increased cost of oil, protesters blame the president's anti-pollution policies and accuse him of disregarding the concerns of "the little people", with the tax hike hurting those in rural and suburban areas the most, affecting the metropolitan elites the least.

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