France bans pension protests opposite parliament
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French police Saturday banned protests on a Paris square opposite parliament after two nights of unrest over the government imposing a pensions reform without a vote in the lower house.
"Due to serious risks of disturbances to a public order... all gatherings on the public thoroughfare in Place de la Concorde and its surroundings, as well as in the area of the Champs Elysees, are banned," the capital's police said.
At least 310 people have been detained across France as the embattled government faces backlash for forcing through pension reforms that will see the country’s retirement age raised by two years.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told French radio RTL that most of the arrests made on Thursday night – 258 – were in Paris. Although calm had returned to the capital’s streets by Friday morning, government ministers were on the defensive following Thursday night’s impromptu protests.
The French government on Thursday forced through controversial plans to raise the country’s retirement age from 62 to 64, a move that has inflamed the country’s weeks-long protest movement.
Government spokesperson Olivier Veran and Budget Minister Gabriel Attal both repeated President Emmanuel Macron’s claim that the government hadn’t wanted to use its constitutional power to push through the law. They were speaking to French outlets, LCI and France Inter respectively.
“If we don’t do [the reforms] today, it’s much more brutal measures that we will have to do in future,” Attal said. Police dislodge garbage collectors who are refusing to work at the Ivry-sur-Seine incinerator near Paris on Friday. Protesters briefly blocked Paris’ ring road on Friday morning in protest at the pension reform, causing long delays to the morning commute, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV.
And a strike by garbage workers that has left many streets in Paris full of trash bags is continuing. Interior minister Darmanin said he would order police to force some of them to work. “I respect the strike of the garbage collectors,” he said, “however, what is not acceptable is unsanitary conditions.”
In a note Thursday night, the interior ministry, in the context of the reaction to the pension reforms, called on security forces to “firmly maintain” protections for elected officials in France, who, “are sometimes the object of threats, insults, or even malicious acts such as damage to property.”
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced in the National Assembly earlier Thursday that Macron would trigger special constitutional powers to enact the proposed pension reform bill. “We cannot bet on the future of our pensions,” Borne said amid jeers and chants from lawmakers. “This reform is necessary.”