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France Yellow Vests

Military to be deployed for next round of Yellow Vest protests

Military forces patrol the French city of Strasbourg as part of Operation Sentinel in place since  2015
Military forces patrol the French city of Strasbourg as part of Operation Sentinel in place since 2015 Wikicommons / Claude Truong-Ngoc

The French government is to deploy its military anti-terror force as reinforcement during Act 19 of Saturday Yellow Vest protests.

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The decision by President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday, came after violence marred last weekend's protests, spiking to levels not seen since December.

Many targets by the movement in Paris and other cities included known landmarks and stores or places seen as elitist, such as the Parisian restaurant Le Fouquet's on the Champs Elysées.

Following the terrorist attacks at Charlie Hebdo in 2015, military officers have been patrolling the streets across the country as part of Operation Sentinel.

Now, they will be dedicated to ensuring security at the next round of Yellow Vest demonstrations, which have been held every Saturday for the past 18 weeks.

But last week’s demonstrations, which some Yellow Vest leaders had suggested may be their last, turned into some of the most violent to date.

After the weekend, the French government sacked the top police official in Paris, 66-year-old Michel Delpuech, for failure to keep the protests in the capital from spiralling out of control.

Damage done

In addition to the landmark restaurant in Paris, more than 100 other businesses were damaged along the Champs-Elysées.

At its outset, the movement was not intended to be violent but it has increasingly attracted many far-right and far-left agitators who have been held responsible for much of the violence.

And the story isn’t repeated in just Paris alone.

Major cities dealing from the movement include Lyon, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Nantes and Nice, to name a few.

New restrictions in Nice

The capital of the French Riviera, Nice is home to many luxury stores and is often the symbol of the elite in the south.

The mayor of the southern French city, Christian Estrosi, announced on Wednesday Yellow Vest protesters this coming Saturday will be permitted to demonstrate in a marked area.

On Sunday, China’s President Xi Jinping will start his visit to France with a stop in Côte d’Azur beginning with Nice and Monaco.

Speaking to AFP, the prefecture of the Alpes-Maritimes region said a defined perimetre will be announced by the Minister of Interior, Christophe Castaner.

Although protesters have been relatively calm in Nice, after the damage in Paris last week, officials do not want to take any risks.

Prohibition to protest

On Monday, following last weekend's violence, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that protesting will be prohibited “whenever it is necessary” in the neighbourhoods “the most affected, as soon as we have knowledge of such extreme elements and their will to inflict damage”.

For the upcoming protest this week, which will mark the 19th week, calls on social media have singled out Nice, Toulouse and Montpellier.

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