FRANCE’S ‘yellow vest’ protesters have threatened to cause further violence after the arrest of one of their leaders.
Dozens of riot police bundled activist Eric Drouet into a van as he tried to lay flowers and light candles in central Paris on Wednesday in memory of the ten people who have died during eight weeks of demonstrations.
Drouet was first arrested in December and was on bail while awaiting trial for ‘carrying a prohibited category-D weapon’. He was released yesterday after a night in custody following his subsequent arrest near the Champs-Élysées.
His detention has led to accusations that French president Emmanuel Macron had ordered a ‘political arrest’ to stop further anti-government demonstrations which began over rising fuel prices.
Left-wing MP Jean-Luc Melenchon called it an ‘abuse of power’ and ‘a politicised police targeting and harassing the leaders of the yellow vests movement’. The nationwide movement has threatened further trouble tomorrow — its traditional protest day. ‘It’s oil on the fire,’ said Benjamin Gauchy, another yellow vests leader, adding: ‘Public opinion will be shocked.’
Mr Macron has offered concessions such as scrapping green taxes on petrol and diesel after riots caused millions of pounds of damage in Paris, but the protests have continued.
Meanwhile, Germany was braced for its own yellow vests protests after Sahra Wagenknecht, the leader of the 170,000-member left-wing ‘Aufstehen’ group — which translates as ‘Get Up’ — vowed to take to the streets.
According to The Guardian, she said: ‘We recognise when people go on to the streets to protest — especially those who have not had a political voice for many years who rediscover their voice by protesting — then political change can happen.’