FRANCE’S president Emmanuel Macron has postponed plans to raise fuel prices in the face of the violent ‘gilet jaune’ protests across the country.
The climbdown means ‘none of the fuel surcharges set for the new year will take effect,’ a government source said.
Following emergency talks at the Élysée Palace, prime minister Édouard Philippe said the surcharges, aimed at meeting green, climate change targets, would be suspended for six months.
But the gilet jaune, or yellow vest, protesters, who took to the streets of Paris and other cities and towns for the past two weekends, said they would continue to demand more fuel tax cuts.
‘It’s a first step but we don’t want crumbs,’ said Benjamin Cauchy, a spokesman for the movement, which takes its name from the high-visibility yellow jackets that all drivers have to carry in France.
‘Demonstrations will continue as we fight for further demands.’
He said he had received ‘30 death threats’ after pleading for his movement to halt its campaign of violence.
There were more than 400 arrests in Paris at the weekend, as protesters fought running battles with riot police.
National monuments including the Arc de Triomphe were sacked and other buildings were burnt out as looters stole goods from high-end boutiques around the Champs-Élysées.
Mr Macron had pledged to carry on with his policy of increasing the price of petrol and diesel to meet environmental targets in line with the Paris climate change agreement.
He said there would be ‘no possibility whatsoever’ of his government backing down in the face of disturbances.
But he now joins a long list of French presidents who have bowed down to rioters.
The current spate of violence is considered the worst in France since the 1968 riots.