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Yellow Vests look to keep up pressure with 22nd consecutive Saturday of protests

Pascal Pavani, AFP | Anti-riot police officers walk amid smoke as Yellow Vest protesters take to the streets for the 22nd consecutive Saturday, on April 13, 2019, in Toulouse.

Over 30,000 protesters took to the streets of France on Saturday, for the 22nd consecutive Saturday of demonstrations. Tension rose in Toulouse as thousands gathered for the first time since a controversial anti-rioting law took effect on April 11.

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French Interior Ministry said 31,000 Yellow Vest protesters marched on Saturday, including 5,000 in Paris. Demonstrations also took place in Marseille, Grenoble, Lille and other cities.

On social media, Yellow Vest protesters in Toulouse were called on to keep up the fight against President Emmanuel “Macron and his world” and to “show that everything is just getting started after the results of the big debate”.

Less than one hour after the start of the demonstration, clashes broke out when protesters threw stones at the police. The latter answered by firing tear gas.

Prime Minister Édouard Philippe on Monday presented the initial findings of a vast, nearly three-month-long public consultation known as the Grand Débat. Macron launched the initiative in January in response to the Yellow Vest unrest saying he “intend[ed] to transform violence into solutions”.

>> Read more: French PM highlights 'need for justice and equity' after nationwide debate

The new anti-rioting law, which was partially censured by the country’s Constitutional Council before taking effect and which has been condemned by dozens of organisations, makes it illegal to cover one’s face during demonstrations. It took effect on Thursday.

Last week, “Act 21” of the protests drew 22,300 people into the streets, the Interior Ministry said, the lowest official figure since the demonstrations began in mid-November.

Saturday’s showing is due to serve as merely a foretaste to larger demonstrations slated for April 20, with Macron expected to present his response to the nationwide debate in a speech in the interim.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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