Macron 'deplores' 11 deaths in 'yellow vest' protests

Cairo (AFP) –


French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said he "deplores" the deaths during "yellow vest" demonstrations of 11 people, which he said were not caused by French security forces.

Since mid-November, tens of thousands of protesters have rallied against Macron's policies in weekly protests which often end in clashes with police.

"I deplore that 11 of our French citizens have lost their lives during this crisis," Macron said in the Egyptian capital Cairo, following further violence in weekend rallies.

"I note that they have often lost their lives due to human folly but none of them has been a victim of the security forces," he added during a press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The French interior ministry told AFP the latest person to die during protests was a 52-year-old demonstrator who had a heart attack at Saturday's rally in Paris.

While praising French security forces for their handling of the demonstrations, Macron also committed to defending citizens' right to protest.

He said the arrest of "troublemakers, extremists" was legitimate, as they had vandalised businesses and public property, as well as carried out acts of violence against police and others.

"(They were) not arrested because they said something. Not arrested because they thought something," Macron told journalists.

On Saturday 223 people were arrested in Paris, according to the local prefecture, while France's interior ministry estimated numbers for the 11th week of protests were at 69,000 across the country.

Macron said there should be no confusion between "professional troublemakers" and "French citizens who demonstrate their dissatisfaction as they have the right to do".