French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday suspended a planned fuel price hike in the country for six months following violent protests in Paris over the last weekend. Philippe said people’s anger must be heard and that the prices would not be raised until there was a proper debate with those affected.
The “gilet jaunes” or “yellow vest” protests, named after the fluorescent jackets stored in all vehicles in France, began on November 17 against rising fuel taxes and high cost of living, and escalated on Saturday. Several people in fluorescent yellow jackets and masked faces had rioted on the streets of Paris, setting dozens of vehicles and buildings on fire. They also tagged the Arc de Triomphe, one of the most famous monuments in Paris, with graffiti and looted several stores.
Three people have died since the protests began in November, BBC reported. Around 400 people have been arrested.
“The French who have donned yellow vests want taxes to drop, and work to pay,” Philippe said in a TV address, according to Reuters. “That’s also what we want. If I didn’t manage to explain it, if the ruling majority didn’t manage to convince the French, then something must change.”
Philippe said besides fuel price hike, increase in electricity and gas prices and strict vehicle emissions controls have also been suspended. He said a public consultation would be held on taxes and public spending between December 15 and March 1. The prime minister, however, warned citizens that they could not expect better public services and pay lower taxes.