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France Back-pedals On Fuel Tax Rise

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France’s PM has announced a six-month suspension of a fuel tax rise which has led to weeks of violent protests.

Edouard Philippe said that people’s anger must be heard, and the measures would not be applied until there had been proper debate with those affected.

The protests have hit major French cities, causing considerable damage for the past three weekends. The “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests) protests have now grown to reflect more widespread anger at the government.

Three people have died since the unrest began and the resulting violence and vandalism – notably when statues were smashed at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris last Saturday – have been widely condemned.

“Yellow vests” are so called because they have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law.

The movement has grown via social media and has supporters across the political spectrum.

President Emmanuel Macron was elected last year with an overwhelming mandate for sweeping reform, but his popularity has fallen sharply in  recent months.

Mr Macron has accused his political opponents of hijacking the movement in order to block the reforms.

Mr Philippe announced the measures in a TV address after meeting MPs from the ruling party La Republique en Marche.

He said the six-month suspension would be applied to fuel tax increases, as well as hikes in electricity and gas prices and strict

vehicle emissions controls.

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