France pension protests continue, ban on demonstrations opposite parliament

France has banned protests opposite parliament after a second night of unrest sparked by President Emmanuel Macron imposing an unpopular pension overhaul without a parliament vote.

Peaceful marches, however, got underway in other parts of the country after Macron's government invoked a controversial executive power to force through the bill by decree.

The move has caused outrage among the political class as well as angry protests in the street, presenting the 45-year-old leader with one of his biggest challenges less than a year into his second and final mandate.


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Opposition lawmakers have filed two motions of no confidence in the government, which are to be debated in parliament on Monday afternoon according to parliamentary sources.

They hope to garner enough support to topple the cabinet and repeal the law to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

On Saturday, Paris police banned crowds at the capital's Place de la Concorde across the Seine river from parliament, after spontaneous gatherings there the two previous nights led to clashes between some demonstrators and security forces.

It said it was doing so "due to serious risks of disturbances to public order."

But people marched in towns and cities around the country after regional unions called for a weekend of protests.


'We're being trampled on'

Ariane Laget, 36, was among some 200 people demonstrating in the small southern town of Lodeve.

"We're fed up. We feel like we're being trampled on and no one is listening," she said.

Large crowds also took to the streets in the western city of Nantes. "Death to the king," read one placard, in an apparent reference to the president.

Unions have called for another day of nationwide strikes and rallies on Thursday.

People attend a demonstration in Nantes. /Stephane Mahe/Reuters
People attend a demonstration in Nantes. /Stephane Mahe/Reuters

People attend a demonstration in Nantes. /Stephane Mahe/Reuters

On Friday, thousands of people rallied in Place de la Concorde to vent their frustration at the government imposing the reform, despite two months of strikes and demonstrations against the change.

Groups of people threw bottles and fireworks at the security forces, who responded by firing tear gas to try to clear the square. Police said they made 61 arrests.

In the southeastern city of Lyon, demonstrators tried to break into a town hall and set fire to the building, said police, who reported 36 arrests.

Opinion polls have shown around two-thirds of French people oppose the reform, which is also to require people to work longer for a full pension.

The government has said it is necessary to avoid the system from slipping into deficit, and bring France in line with its European neighbors where the legal retirement age is typically higher.

But critics say the changes are unfair for people who start working at a young age in physically tough jobs, and women who interrupt their careers to raise children.


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Source(s): AFP

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