Monday, October 2, 2023
27 C
Brunei Town
- Advertisement -

Protest convoy approaches Paris defying police deployment

PARIS (AFP) – Thousands of opponents of coronavirus rules encamped on the outskirts of Paris yesterday resumed their way to the French capital in convoys of vehicles, defying a ban by authorities who are determined to prevent any blockade of the city.

Inspired by Canadian truckers paralysing border traffic with the United States (US), the demonstrators include anti-Covid vaccination activists, but also people angry at fast-rising energy prices.

Some drivers parked on the fringes of Chartres, about 80 kilometres from Paris, left at around 5am, according to messages seen by AFP.

Messages said the aim was to “create a mass of vehicles that the forces of order would find impossible to contain”.

“Faced with several thousand vehicles capable of stopping or being on the move” the police would not be able to do much, one message said.

Nearly 7,200 police and gendarmes “are being deployed over the next three days to enforce the ban on vehicle convoys”, Paris police headquarters said.

Police officers speak with a bystander at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. PHOTO: AFP

Paris police prefect Didier Lallement said they created a temporary car pound which, together with dozens of tow trucks, “will… put an end to any blockage”.

Police showed off their anti-blockage arsenal on Twitter, publishing photographs of loader tractors for the removal of barricades as well as trucks equipped with cranes or
water cannon.

Gendarmerie armoured vehicles have also been deployed in the streets of the capital for the first time since the “yellow vest” protests at the end of 2018.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex vowed to remain steadfast.

“If they block traffic or if they try to block the capital, we must be very firm about this,” he said.

Hundreds of cars, motorhomes and vans from Lille, Strasbourg, Chateaubourg and elsewhere stopped on Friday at the gates of Paris, but a police source said no convoy entered the capital.

They are demanding a withdrawal of the government’s vaccine pass, which is required for access to many public spaces, and more help with their energy bills.

“People need to see us, and to listen to the people who just want to live a normal and free life,” said Lisa, a 62-year-old retired health worker who joined a convoy of over 1,000 vehicles leaving Chateaubourg in the western Brittany region on Friday. Like other protesters, Lisa has been active in the “yellow vest” movement that erupted over a fuel tax hike before becoming a platform for other complaints against French President Emmanuel Macron.

Just two months ahead of presidential elections and with the government desperate to avoid violent scenes in the capital, Macron said on Friday he understood the “fatigue” linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This fatigue also leads to anger. I understand it and I respect it. But I call for the utmost calm,” he told the Ouest-France newspaper.

- Advertisement -

Latest article