(Bloomberg) -- French President Emmanuel Macron will wait until early next week to speak to the nation, holding off until after Saturday’s planned protests, as authorities prepared to use armored vehicles and mobilize 89,000 police to contain potential violence.
“The president understands the context and the situation, and he doesn’t want to add fuel to the fire,” said political ally and National Assembly chief Richard Ferrand. So he will wait until after Saturday and the marches planned across France by the Yellow Vests movement and also by groups of protesters who want to fight authorities, Ferrand told AFP.
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France’s government will deploy “exceptional” forces on Saturday and a dozen armored vehicles will patrol Paris, the first time they will be used in the capital city since World War 2. Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said the state will bring a “determined and proportionate” response to violence.
- “We are there to protect everyone, including the Yellow Vests, but we will be firm and inflexible with the vandals," General Richard Lizurey, head of the French gendarmes, said in an interview on CNews.
- More than 700 high school students were arrested Thursday as schools and universities joined the national protest, which began in opposition to higher fuel taxes. Officials said 300 schools were occupied or closed on Friday. High schools in the Paris region that would normally have classes on Saturday mornings have been asked to stay closed.
- Video footage of police arresting adolescents, filmed in Mantes-la-Jolie near Paris, is creating controversy over the methods used by the authorities. Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said the images are “shocking.”
- Transport and labor ministers will meet with unions and local government representatives to discuss measures to help workers and find an exit from the crisis while truck-drivers’ unions called for a strike starting Sunday.
- “We won’t impose by law a general increase in salaries; it wouldn’t make any sense, it would destroy competitiveness and the labor market,” Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud said Friday on BFM Business.
- The French president’s approval rating slipped 4 percentage points in a month to 23 percent in an Elabe survey for Les Echos released Thursday. It’s now lower than his Socialist predecessor Francois Hollande’s was at the same point in his presidency.
- The protests are a cause of concern for 59 percent of French surveyed by Odoxa in a poll for Le Figaro and France Info, up 15 points from a poll two weeks earlier. 77% of those surveyed consider the continuation of protests justified, down 7 points from a week earlier.
- Paris landmarks including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre museum and the Musee d’Orsay, as well as the city’s two opera houses, will be closed on Saturday. Arc de Triomphe will have a “specific protection.”
- Champs-Elysees shop owners have been asked to close on Saturday.
--With assistance from Melissa Pozsgay.
To contact the reporters on this story: Helene Fouquet in Paris at email@example.com;Angeline Benoit in Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org
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