Yellow vests gather in central Paris

A man wearing an Anonymous mask and a yellow vest and holding a Star Wars Jedi light laser takes part in a demonstration to protest against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes, by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, on December 15, 2018Image copyright
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Five weekends of protests have dented the French economy

“Yellow vest” protesters have gathered on the Champs-Elysées in Paris for a fifth consecutive weekend of demonstrations.

Thousands of police will be deployed in case of violent clashes and disruptions that have marked previous protests.

The movement began five weeks ago, initially against a rise in fuel taxes, but has since spread to take in other issues, including education reforms.

Dozens of people have already been arrested this Saturday.

However, so far the number of arrests is much lower than the 500 made around the same time last weekend.

Scuffles broke out in the centre of the city and police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd trying to make their way through police lines.

Some shops and department stores in Paris have closed for the day as the protesters defied calls by the French government urging them to stay at home.

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Yellow-vest protests descended into violent clashes last weekend

“Last time, we were here for taxes,” said 28-year-old called Jeremy told the AFP news agency.

“This is for the institutions – we want more direct democracy,” he said, adding that people needed to “shout to make themselves heard”.

Some museums are closed, but both the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower remain open.

Smaller protests have also been reported in Toulouse, Grenoble and Lyon. In Calais, a group of “yellow vests’ blocked the access road to the port.

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Protesters gathered at the Opera Garnier in Paris

The impact of the “gilets jaunes” (yellow-vest) demonstrations has been keenly felt in France. The government has been forced to bow to pressure and adjust its economic course.

President Emmanuel Macron responded to the nationwide street protests by scrapping an unpopular fuel tax rise, and promising an extra €100 (£90; $114) a month for minimum wage earners and tax cuts for pensioners.

However, it is far from clear that he has done enough to defuse public anger.

The BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris says some in the movement are calling for a pause following President Macron’s concessions, but there are still yellow vests around the country who feel now is not the time to ease the pressure.

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