France retirement protests: Paris bans gatherings near key sites to quell unrest

 France retirement protests: Paris bans gatherings near key sites to quell unrest


Paris police have banned gatherings in the city’s spots in areas around important government sites in an effort to end protests against France’s plan to raise the state pension age by two years without a vote. 

“Due to serious risks of disturbances to public order and security … any gathering at Place de la Concorde and its surroundings as well as in the area of the Avenue des Champs-Elysées is prohibited,” the police said, according to an AFP report. “People who try to gather there will be systematically evicted by the police.” 

French President Emmanuel Macron has decided to push through the new legislation, which would raise the age of retirement from 62 to 64, using Article 49.3 of the constitution, which allows him to pass a law without a parliamentary vote. His decision has proven deeply unpopular, prompting nationwide protests. 

Demonstrators gathered in cities including Bordeau, Marseille and elsewhere as they continue to demand the vote, which Macron does not seem confident would pass. 

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Demonstrators holds banners as they gather on the place de la Concorde near the National Assembly, with the Eiffel tower in the background, to protest after French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne delivered a speech to announce the use of the article 49.3, a special clause in the French Constitution, to push the pensions reform bill through the lower house of parliament without a vote by lawmakers, in Paris, France, March 16, 2023.    (Reuters/Pascal Rossignol)

Despite the Paris ban, protests continued on Saturday anyway, instead gathering in the shopping area Les Halles in the center of Paris, according to Politico. 

A protester holds a cut-out depicting French President Emmanuel Macron near fire during a demonstration on Place de la Concorde to protest the use by French government of the article 49.3, a special clause in the French Constitution, to push the pensions reform bill through the National Assembly without a vote by lawmakers, in Paris, France, March 17, 2023. 

A protester holds a cut-out depicting French President Emmanuel Macron near fire during a demonstration on Place de la Concorde to protest the use by French government of the article 49.3, a special clause in the French Constitution, to push the pensions reform bill through the National Assembly without a vote by lawmakers, in Paris, France, March 17, 2023.  (Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes )

More than eight out of 10 people are unhappy with the government’s decision to skip a vote in parliament, and 65% want strikes and protests to continue, a Toluna Harris Interactive poll for RTL radio showed.

French gendarmes and CRS riot police stand on position near a fire as demonstrators gather on Place de la Concorde near the National Assembly in Paris, France, March 16, 2023. 

French gendarmes and CRS riot police stand on position near a fire as demonstrators gather on Place de la Concorde near the National Assembly in Paris, France, March 16, 2023.  (Reuters/Lucien Libert)

The protests have hit a number of vital industries, including refineries, trash collection and railways, The Guardian reported. 

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CGT Union leader Philippe Martinez stressed that the group made it clear to Macron that the protests would continue as long as he pursued his plan to ram the legislation through. 

Gendarmerie members stand guard during a demonstration on Place de la Concorde in Paris, France, March 17, 2023. 

Gendarmerie members stand guard during a demonstration on Place de la Concorde in Paris, France, March 17, 2023.  (Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes)

“No one can say we didn’t say anything: We told him,” Martinez said, adding that “the situation was explosive.” 

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The street protests have been largely peaceful, but police clashed with demonstrators on Friday night, with 61 people arrested after a fire was lit near the national assembly. Demonstrators chanted “Macron, Resign!” as they squared off against a line of riot police. 

A demonstrator trows a projectile amid clashes during a protest after French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne used the article 49.3, a special clause in the French Constitution, to push the pensions reform bill through the National Assembly without a vote by lawmakers, in Nantes, France, March 16, 2023.  

A demonstrator trows a projectile amid clashes during a protest after French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne used the article 49.3, a special clause in the French Constitution, to push the pensions reform bill through the National Assembly without a vote by lawmakers, in Nantes, France, March 16, 2023.   (Reuters/Stephane Mahe)

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Over 300 people have been arrested nationwide, with 258 of them in the area around the national assembly over recent days. 

A broad alliance of France’s main unions said they would continue to try and force a U-turn on the changes. 

Reuters contributed to this report. 



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