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Politique/FRANCE

Hollande to meet unions as French police protests continue

French police officers demonstrate in Lyon
French police officers demonstrate in Lyon AFP

As police officers demonstrated for a fourth night in Paris and other French towns, President François Hollande promised to meet their unions at the beginning of next week. The protests are demanding more resources after attacks on police, notably a firebomb that injured four and left one fighting for his life, on 8 October.

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About 500 police officers demonstrated on Paris's Champs Elysées avenue on Thursday night, the third time they have taken to the capital's streets this week, while smaller protests took place in Evry, near where the firebomb attack took place, and Bobigny, just outside Paris.

While in Brussels for a European Union summit, Hollande promised to meet police trade unions at the beginning of next week, although many protesters have accused the unions of failing to represent their interests.

They complain of vehicles, police stations and body armour in a poor state and understaffing of a force that has been overstretched in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks, the Euro 2016 and protests against the government's labour reform earlier this year.

Silent rallies planned next week

Unions have called for silent rallies in front of courthouses next Tuesday and called for a redrafting of the law on legitimate defence and the use of weapons, as well as minimum sentences for attacks on police officers, a measure brought in under right-wing president Nicolas Sarkozy but repealed under Hollande.

Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas promised "the greatest firmness" with attackers but has refused to bring back minimum sentences.

Chief of Police Jean-Marc Falcone, targeted by calls for his resignation on some of the protests, on Friday said he would submit a list of proposals to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who is also unpopular with the demonstrators, next week.

Officials in central France have banned a demonstration calling for the police to be disarmed planned for Saturday in Saint Etienne on the grounds that it was a threat to public order.

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