France suspends fuel tax, but demonstrators vow to continue protests
PARIS (AP) — The French government’s decision to suspend fuel tax and utility hikes Tuesday did little to appease protesters, who called the move a “first step” and vowed to fight on after large-scale rioting in Paris last weekend.
In a major u-turn for the government, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced in a live televised address that the planned increases, which were set to be introduced in January, would be postponed until summer.
The backpedaling by President Emmanuel Macron’s government appeared designed to calm the nation, coming three days after the worst unrest on the streets of Paris in decades.
“No tax is worth putting the nation’s unity in danger,” Philippe said, just three weeks after insisting that the government wouldn’t change course in its determination to wean French consumers off polluting fossil fuels.
But, demonstrations continued around the country Tuesday.
Protesters wearing their signature fluorescent yellow vests kept blocking several fuel depots and, on a highway near the southern city of Aubagne, protesters took over a toll booth to let vehicles pass for free.
They put up a sign by the side of the road reading “Macron dictator.”