France to strengthen sanctions on undeclared protests, PM Philippe says

Ex-boxing champ surrenders after punching French police

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Speaking to French broadcaster TF1 on Monday, Edouard Philippe said the government can not accept people who participate in the protests to show violence.

"Yellow vests, do not weaken!"

"The government is in favour of our law being amended and punishing those who do not respect this obligation to declare protests, those who take part in undeclared protests, those who arrive at protests with balaclavas", added the prime minister.

The onus would be on "the troublemakers, and not taxpayers, to pay for the damage caused" to businesses and property during the protests, the premier added.

Elected in mid-2017 on a platform of liberalizing the economy, Macron has promised to press on with his reform program and overhaul French institutions in spite of the "yellow vest" crisis.

"And faced with ultra-violence, we need to be ultra-severe".

French police signaled a tougher line last week when they arrested one of the leaders of the "yellow vests", truck driver Eric Drouet, for organizing an unauthorized demonstration.

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Dettinger, the boxer, could face years in jail if convicted over his rampage on Saturday on the Leopold-Sedar-Senghor bridge which links the Tuileries gardens to the Musee d'Orsay in central Paris. He abandoned the tax hike and announced last month a series of measures to boost purchasing power. Planned changes concern highly inflammatory topics: an overhaul of the indebted pension system and of France's relatively generous unemployment benefits.

That is likely to be closely scrutinized as he prepares to bring in stricter rules for unemployment benefits and cut thousands of public sector jobs.

Nicolas Tenzer, a political commentator, essayist and former top civil servant, said on French TV that the country faced an "insurrectionist movement driven by the extreme right and left", which has adopted violence as a natural element of its combat.

As reported, a street artist known as Pascal Boyart, AKA Pboy, recently finished a mural depicting the yellow vests' struggle against the French regime.

Yellow vest activists are urging French citizens to empty their bank accounts and spark a massive run on French banks in their long-standing fight with the government.

The protest began as a grassroots French provincial movement with people donning high-visibility jackets, which by law must be carried by every vehicle in France. Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, who heads the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), wrote on his party's blog.

The spat between the two countries threatens to worsen European Union political and economic divisions as each country exploits the other's political and socio-economic tensions while underscoring the increasingly sour relations between Paris and Rome.

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