France: Hundreds gather in Lyon to protest
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Police clashed with protesters on Tuesday after demonstrations over President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms turned violent. At least 100 protesters wearing black threw paving stones and bottles at police officers who responded by firing tear gas towards the end of a rally in Paris.
Activists retreated into the side streets close to Les Invalides, a monument that houses the body of Napoleon Bonaparte, before re-emerging to throw projectiles at police.
Officials said 18 people had been arrested while banks and cars were vandalised.
Around 4,000 officers were deployed by the Interior Ministry in Paris, most equipped with riot gear, while 7,000 were on duty in provincial towns and cities.
The disturbances come on the second day of a general strike against Macron’s pension reforms that have hit huge sections of the economy.
Schools were closed while public transport was disrupted and the power supply was lower than usual as electricity workers went on strike.
This comes as Mr Macron plans on increasing the retirement age from 62 to 64.
Although this is low compared to other developed countries, the proposals are very unpopular with the French public.
Protesters in Paris expressed their hostility to Macron with one chanting: “Macron wants our death.”
Another reportedly shouted: “Retirement before arthritis.”
Despite the fact that two-thirds of the public are opposed to the pension reforms, Macron appears to be pressing ahead with the controversial move.
The reforms will begin their passage through the National Assembly next week.
However following elections last year the government does not have a majority in parliament and will need the support of the right -wing Republicans.
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Speaking to reporters in Marseille, far-left leader and former Presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon predicted that the reforms would be defeated.
He said: “Mr Macron is certain to lose. Nobody wants his reforms, and the more the days go by, the greater the opposition to them.”
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