France government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said on Sunday that the government will consider imposing a state of emergency to prevent a recurrence of some of the worst civil unrest, in more than a decade- the yellow Vest’ movement. The government has urged to protesters to come to the negotiating table.
On Saturday, groups of young men with faces masked, some carrying metal bars and axes, rioted on the streets of central Paris, setting a dozen vehicles ablaze and torching buildings.
Griveaux told Europe 1 radio, “We have to think about the measures that can be taken so that these incidents don’t happen again.”
Apparently, the authorities were caught off guard by the escalation in violence after two weeks of nationwide protests against fuel taxes and living costs. The movement is called the ‘yellow vest’ movement after fluorescent jackets kept in all vehicles in France.
If reports are to be believed, President Emmanuel Macron will hold an emergency meeting with the prime minister and interior minister later on Sunday to discuss about the situation and figure out means to begin a dialogue with the protest movement, which has no real point of origin, or leadership nor structure.
When the President was asked about imposing a state of emergency, Griveaux said it would be among the options considered on Sunday.
He retorted, “It is out of the question that each weekend becomes a meeting or ritual for violence.”
On November 17, Protests began and quickly grew its strength, thanks to social media, with protesters blocking roads across France and impeding access to shopping malls, factories and some fuel depots.
Authorities reported that violent groups from the far right and far left as well as ‘thugs’ from the suburbs had infiltrated the yellow vests movement in Paris on Saturday, although Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that most of those arrested were regular protesters who had been egged on by fringe groups, to participate in the movement.
Castaner said to BFM TV late on Saturday, that the authorities had put all security measures in place to prevent the violence, but that they had faced extremely violent, organised and determined groups.
He did admit that the government had made a mistake in how it communicated its plans to move away from oil dependence, the policy which led to fuel tax hikes.
Christophe Castaner and Griveaux have urged the yellow vest movement to organise itself and coming to the negotiating table.
Griveaux said, “We are ready to talk to them everywhere and the door is open to them.”