French PM unveils fresh security strategy in response to violent "Yellow Vest" protests

French PM unveils fresh security strategy in response to violent "Yellow Vest" protests

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Monday announced a package of measures, including a ban of protests in the Champs Elysees avenue, in response to the spike of violence broken out from the "Yellow Vest" street action over the weekend, Trend reports Xinhua.

In the latest demonstration in a series of weekly protests that began in November 2018 against dwindling purchasing power, a group of hard-left anti-capitalism militants, known as Black Blocs, ran amok across Paris on Saturday, torching cars and buildings, looting shops and smashing windows of boutiques in the fanciest shopping districts in Paris.

"These were criminal acts. The government's response must be strong," Philippe told reporters.

"From next Saturday, we will ban 'Yellow Vest' protests in neighborhoods that have been worst hit as soon as we see signs of the presence of radical groups and their intent to cause damage," he added.

"When a demonstration is not declared and banned, all those who participate, protect the thugs, encourage or glorify them on social networks, are accomplices," he warned.

In a televised speech, the prime minister admitted some security flaws and vowed to strengthen the government's security strategy "to adapt to the evolution of the movement and the radicalization of the protesters."

With that aim, he pledged more decision-making autonomy to security officers on the ground and to provide them with extra equipment including drones.

He also stressed that he was "determined to use all the legal means" against people attending unauthorised protests with "significantly" increased fines.

As part of the government's initiative to improve its security tactics, Paris police chief Michel Delpuech had been sacked and would be replaced on Wednesday by Didier Lallement, the top police officer in the southwest region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

At the end of last year, people angry at higher fuel tax started blocking roads, occupying highway tollbooths and staging rolling nationwide protests.

Four months on, the "Yellow Vest" movement which has no clear leader, is still posing a stern challenge to French President Emmanuel Macron, who is still struggling to defuse public anger and meet protesters' requests, despite a series of concessions he had made.

Some representatives of the movement are already coordinating on social media the upcoming "act" next Saturday.

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