French President To Address Political Unrest in France Monday
PARIS, France -- France's beleaguered president Emmanuel Macron is expected to address the nation Monday after a fourth weekend of protests that have challenged his grip on power.
In a speech that is expected to center around national unity, Macron is anticipated to urge the "gilets jaunes," or "yellow vest" protesters to seek dialogue after a weekend in which 1,723 people were taken in for questioning and 1,220 were taken into custody, according to the Interior Ministry. Across the country, 135 people were reported wounded.
Macron is facing criticism from both left and right with demonstrators marching against the rise of living costs, the scrapping of the "fortune tax" and accusations that the former banker has done little to address the inequality in French society.
Further pressure grew over the weekend with police firing rubber bullets and hundreds of canisters of tear gas at the demonstrators, some of whom had set vehicles on fire during Saturday's protests.
The protests have paralyzed Paris with landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower being closed to the public, some metro stations being closed and sporting events across the country called off.
On Sunday, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire claimed the the unrest was creating a "catastrophe" for the French economy.
"It's a catastrophe for commerce, it's a catastrophe for our economy," Le Maire told reporters as he walked around Paris while surveying the damage wrought by protesters.
Originally a grassroots movement, the "gilets jaunes" first emerged online with Facebook events set up by citizens mostly from deprived rural areas.
They began by coordinating road blockades across France to protest the fuel tax hike but the protests have since mushroomed into a broader demonstration of anger against Macron.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Sunday urged U.S. President Donald Trump to refrain from commenting on the protests in France and not to meddle in the country's domestic policies.
"I say to Donald Trump, and the President of the Republic [Emmanuel Macron] has also said: we do not take part in American debates, allow us to live our life as a nation," Le Driat told LCI television.
Trump on Saturday posted two tweets referring to the "yellow vest" anti-government protests, saying the Paris Agreement on climate change wasn't "working out so well for Paris."
(PHOTO: Stephane Mahe/REUTERS/CNN)