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Paris police ban 'yellow vest' protests near WWII commemorations

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Paris (AFP)

Paris police said "yellow vest" protesters whose weekly demonstrations have caused vandalism and security headaches will be barred from Paris's famed Champs-Elysees avenue on Wednesday during commemorations of the end of World War II.

The anti-government demonstrators will be banned from disrupting "solemn ceremonies" to take place at the Arc de Triomphe and along the avenue, which is near the French presidential palace, the police said in a statement.

French authorities have been taking a harder line against the "yellow vest" protests since the last Paris police chief was sacked three weeks ago for failing to counter a stone-throwing and fiery rampage along the Champs-Elysees.

The new police chief who succeeded him, Didier Lallement, noted that the protests -- which began in November over fuel tax increases and swelled into an anti-government movement -- regularly saw police officers targeted by "a radical splinter group of demonstrators".

The protests usually take place in Paris on Saturdays, but officials feared they could happen on Wednesday this week, which is a public holiday in France.

During Wednesday's commemorations celebrating Victory in Europe Day -- Nazi Germany's surrender to the Allies on May 8, 1945 -- French President Emmanuel Macron is leave his palace and go up the Champs-Elysees with an honour guard to lay a wreath under the Arc de Triomphe.

That famous monument has been repaired in time for the occasion, after "yellow vest" protesters vandalised it in a December demonstration.

They sprayed graffiti, smashed sculptures and stole commemorative medals and snuffed out an eternal flame that burns atop a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, causing 1.2 million euros ($1.3 million) in damage.

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