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02.11.2019 Europe

Yellow Vests gather in southern France to debate movement's future

Valery HACHE / AFP
NOV 2, 2019 EUROPE

Some 600 Yellow Vest protest organisers from across France have gathered in Montpellier for a national assembly to debate the future of their movement.

The gathering in the southern French city goes on until Sunday and comes ahead of the first anniversary of the protests on 17 November.

"We need to do something that stands out to mark the date," said Fabienne, a delegate from Grenoble who like others attending gave only her first name to reporters.

Jacques, from Lille, said the assembly "shows the extent of the Yellow Vest movement".

Some 200 delegations are due at the assembly. It includes a series of workshops to discuss issues such as how to respond to heavy-handed police tactics or how to work with other protest movements.

"We started out amid heavy repression, with a sense of urgency to solve problems. Now is the time for longer-term work on a solid base," said Christophe Chapuis, the assembly's designated spokesperson.

French President Emmanuel Macron was caught out by the Yellow Vest protests when they started last year, as protesters accused him of ignoring the day-to-day struggles of ordinary French people. 

The numbers have dropped well below the initial protest in November last year, which brought out more than 280,000 people across France.

But a dedicated group of activists are maintaining the Saturday demonstrations in cities around France, arguing that Macron is still ignoring the needs of marginalised groups such as the working poor.

(with AFP)