Driver killed in accident at French 'yellow vest' roadblock, bringing death toll to 10 in protests

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 22.12.2018 14:01

A driver died in southern France on Friday when their car hit a truck at a roundabout that was blocked by "Yellow Vest" protesters, French local authorities said.

The car driver, aged 36, died in the accident near Perpignan, a police source told Reuters on Saturday, bringing to 10 the death toll linked to the anti-government protests.

Demonstrators kept up traffic disruptions on Saturday, in another weekend of the protests which have forced President Emmanuel Macron to reverse unpopular policies and disrupted the French economy.

The protests, which have brought particular chaos to Paris over the past few weeks, clearly abated Saturday, as the Christmas holiday season begins in earnest.

The number of protesters demonstrating on Paris' Champs Elysees is down sharply on recent weeks as an appeal for a sixth straight Saturday of protests across France appeared to fall on deaf ears.

In a stark contrast to the chaos of previous weekends, tourists strolled down the avenue near the Arc de Triomphe and perhaps the grandest of Parisian boulevards remained open for traffic.

Despite the more benign backdrop, the protests are still having a knock-on effect.

The palace of Versailles just outside Paris, for example, has been shut for the day after yellow vest protesters said they will hold a demonstration at the famous chateau that was home to succession of French kings until the French Revolution in 1789.

However, only a few protesters wearing their trademark vests showed up in Versailles, with most of the protesters gathering peacefully at the foot of the Sacre-Coeur basilica in the picturesque Paris neighborhood of Montmartre.

Paris' other big tourist hotspots such as the Louvre museum and the Eiffel Tower, which had closed a couple of weeks back, remained open.

One reason why the heat has been taken out of the protests relates to the concessions from Macron. They include tax-free overtime and a freeze on gas and electricity prices this winter. The measures are expected to cost an estimated 10 billion euros ($1.14 billion).

Outside Paris, around 200 roundabouts remained occupied across the country. In southern France near the Spanish border, dozens of demonstrators blocked trucks and chanted "Macron, Demission," which translates as "Macron, resign." In central France near Saint-Etienne, protesters blocked a major road and set fires but shops remained open in the city center.

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