Thousands of people participated in "yellow vest" protests across France on Saturday, February 9 to denounce the policies of the government of President Emmanuel Macron. Saturday's protests marked the 13th consecutive weekend of the "yellow vest" anti-government demonstrations. According to police officials, 12,100 people protested across the country, including an estimated 4000 people in Paris as of 14:00 (local time) on Saturday. "Yellow vest" protests were also reported in Bordeaux, Toulouse, Montpellier, Lille, Nantes, Rennes, Brest, and Caen, as well as associated transportation disruptions in affected areas. Clashes between protesters and police have been reported around the National Assembly in Paris. Some injuries and at least ten arrests were reported in the clashes, with riot police using tear gas to disperse protesters. Demonstrations are expected to continue in the abovementioned cities in the coming hours. Further clashes between security forces and protesters cannot be ruled out.
Similar protests are to be expected across France over the coming weeks. A heightened security presence is to be expected near related demonstrations. Localized transportation and business disruptions are likely in the vicinity of protests.
The "yellow vest" movement began on November 17, 2018, to protest rising fuel prices and a planned fuel tax and has since grown to encompass a number of popular grievances against the French government; some protests have turned violent and acts of vandalism and looting have been reported, although the scale of the protests has diminished since their height in December. Some 1700 demonstrators and 1000 police officers have been wounded in clashes since the protests began.
The government had previously announced a tax increase on fuel prices, including gasoline and diesel, beginning on January 1, 2019, to promote environmentally friendly practices. Although the government announced the withdrawal of the carbon tax project from the 2019 budget on December 5, protests have continued.
Individuals in France are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests due to the risk of violence, budget extra time to reach their destinations if traveling through areas affected by demonstrations, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.
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