New Delhi: France banned protests outside the parliament after agitation against the government pushing through a rise in pension age intensified on Saturday, news agency AFP reported.
“Due to serious risks of disturbances to public order… all gatherings on the public thoroughfare in Place de la Concorde and its surroundings, as well as in the area of the Champs Elysees, are banned,” police said.
Over 300 people were arrested in the last 24 hours after President Emmanuel Macron decided to bypass the parliament and force through his pension overhaul, that includes raising the eligible age from 62 to 64.
President Macron instructed prime minister Élisabeth Borne to invoke Article 49.3 of the Constitution, that allows the French government to adopt a bill without a parliamentary vote. He took the decision as he thought there would be too much economic risk to the country if MPs voted against the bill.
According to reports, as opposition politicians accused the government of a brutal and undemocratic step, demonstrators gathered in cities such as Paris and Rennes, and smaller towns like Laval and Évreux. About 200 people briefly blocked traffic on the Paris ring road early on Friday morning. In Bordeaux, dozens of protesters were seen standing on the tracks at the main train station.
Dozens of people threw bottles and fireworks at the security forces, who resorted to firing tear gas to try to clear the agitating mob.
According to police, demonstrators tried to break into a town hall and set fire to the building in the south-eastern city of Lyon.
“There is no place for violence. One must respect parliamentary democracy,” news agency Reuters quoted Digital Transition and Telecommunications Minister Jean-Noel Barrot as saying.
Meanwhile, a broad alliance of France’s main unions has said it would continue to stage protests to try to force the government change its decision. A day of nationwide industrial action has also been scheduled for Thursday, Reuters reported.
The opposition lawmakers have filed two motions of no confidence in the government that will be debated in parliament on Monday afternoon, AFP reported.