President Macron dismisses 'yellow vest' protesters as agitators
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President Macron dismisses 'yellow vest' protesters as agitators

In his first cabinet meeting of the year on Friday, Macron said order and law must be restored in the country, according to government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux. He called on his ministers to be more radical in their attempt to reform the country, Griveaux said. "Since these announcements, the yellow vest movement, for those who continue to protest, has become the thing of agitators who promote insurrection to topple the government," he added. "Maybe we have made too many concessions to conservatism; we'll have to change that,” he said. Griveaux also said that Macron ordered the authorities to organize a "national debate" in the coming weeks in all regions, for people to express their views, instead of taking to the streets. Macon has hardened his stance while, he had already acknowledged the protesters’ anger was “deep, and in many ways legitimate,” and promised a minimum wage rise and tax concessions. He has even introduced a package of emergency concessions last month to help cool weeks of anti-government protests, which first erupted last month in rural France among citizens who said they could not afford higher fuel taxes that was announced to minimize the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. The demonstrations then transformed into a broader rebuke of Macron’s policies, and they took on a name of their own - the “yellow vest” movement, which is a reference to the vests worn by people active in the transportation industry, who have been at the forefront of the protests. The package, which called for the removal of a planned tax increase for a majority of pensioners and tax-free overtime pay for all workers, was also approved by the National Assembly. The president’s package concessions, however, did not satisfy some of the protesters, who believed that “it doesn’t tackle the problems of substance.” ‘Stop treating people like beggars’ Late on Thursday, a group of protesters posted a letter on social media, warning the president against treating people like beggars. “Anger will turn into hatred if you continue, from your pedestal, you and your associates, to look at little people like beggars,” read the three-page letter. The group has even turned down the president’s invitation to take part in the national debate. They described the debate as a “political trap” designed to drown the issue that “terrifies” the head of state so much, the letter read. Meanwhile, "yellow vest" protesters were back on the streets again Saturday as a government spokesman denounced those still protesting as hard-liners who wanted only to bring down the government. Several hundred protesters gathered on the Champs-Élysées in central Paris, where around 15 police wagons were also deployed, AFP reported. Marches were underway in several other cities across France.  French police have resorted to firing tear gas to disperse the protesters. “Yellow vest” activists had started posting calls on social media for new demonstrations to take place on the first Saturday of 2019 in Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Strasbourg and other cities. 75% of French unhappy with Macron's government: Poll Meanwhile, according to a recent poll, some three-quarters of French people are unhappy with the way President Emmanuel Macron and his government are running the affairs in the country with a majority keen to see more measures to boost household incomes. Only 25 percent of people surveyed by Odoxa and Dentsu Consulting for franceinfo and the Figaro newspaper said they were satisfied with the French government's measures and action since Macron came to power in mid-2017. The poll of 1,004 people, carried out on Jan. 2 and 3, compared to one from April 2018, when 59 percent of those surveyed were unhappy with the government versus 75 percent now. Meanwhile, 55 percent of those surveyed said they thought the protests should carry on, compared to 54 percent on December 11.

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