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Foreign governments issue warnings ahead of Yellow Vest protests in France

Dec 7, 2018 | RFI
REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

89,000 police and gendarmes will be deployed across France on Saturday, 8000 of them in Paris, in a bid to avoid scenes of violence and chaos seen last week, in particular at the Arc de Triomphe monument. This has prompted several countries to warning their citizens to postpone their trips to Paris.

The government repeated its calls for calm ahead of tomorrow's protests for the fourth Saturday in a row.

It has appealed to the sprawling Yellow Vest movement to "transform anger into debate."

French Prime Minister Edoaurd Philippe was set to host talks on Friday evening with a small delegation of six Yellow Vest protesters who had said they would not protest on Saturday. This is according to Benjamin Cauchy, a 'Gilet Jaune' spokesman from Toulouse, speaking on BFMTV earlier.

According to the President of the National Assembly Richard Ferrand, President Emmanuel Macron will not make any announcements before the beginning of next week, to avoid "adding fuel to the fire."

Expecting the worst, the government will, for the first time in decades, deploy armoured "VBRG" vehicles to support gendarmes on the ground.

Authorities fear ultra right and left wing groups will infiltrate the Yellow Vest movement as they did last Saturday.

The police union SGP-Police FO, which handles the riot police division (CRS) says although police have been confronted with violence like this in the past, what is new is "the length these running battles." His colleagues on the ground are "exhausted" having to face hours of violent confrontations every weekend.

Spokesman Grégory Joron told 20 Minutes newspaper that "a red line has been crossed. We haven't managed to disperse large groups with tear gas because they are better and better equipped."

The daily Le Parisien newspaper reported that on the 1 December, the CRS used 10,000 "grenades", 339 of them type GLI-F4, in Paris, to contain the violence.

The GLI-F4s are a mix of TNT, tear gas and make an incredibly loud noise.

International travel warnings for tourists and visitors

On an international level, some countries have been warning their citizens to avoid travelling unless necessary.

The United States for example said its citizens should be discreet.

The Czech Republic, Portugal and Belgium called on their citizens to avoid travelling to Paris unless it was absolutely necessary.

Authorities in Madrid gave the advice to "stay away from any violent situations and don't stop to take photos or videos."

Germany and Italy recommended people "take care", "avoid protest sites" and to "limit outings during the protests."

Closures, postponements, disruption
Public transport will be disrupted on Saturday in Paris, with many metro stations closed in precaution due to the protests.

Automatic bike-hire stands will be out of order for the day and bus routes modified.

Many sites popular with tourists will be closed such as the Tour Eiffel, Louvre Museum, Musée d'Orsay, and the Pompidou centre.

Major department stores such as Printemps and Galeries Lafayette, BHV will be closed.

Six major football matches including PSG-Montpellier, have been postponed to the 15 and 16 January 2019.

Meanwhile, organisers to the Paris climate march said they will hold their event as planned, but will take a different route so as to avoid any confrontation with the Yellow Vests.

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