Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is due to halt the policy later today in an attempt to ease the crisis, government sources have suggested.
Members of the nationwide protest movement, the “gilets jaunes“, or yellow vests, after the fluorescent safety clothing that all French motorists are obliged to keep in their cars, have been protesting since mid-November against President Emmanuel Macron‘s proposals to increase taxes on diesel.
They argue it has resulted in a squeeze on households but the French leader says it is necessary to combat climate change.
The protests have since evolved into a bigger anti-Macron uprising, with many criticising the president for pursuing policies that they claim favour the richest members of French society.
More than 130 people were injured and over 400 arrested this weekend as protests turned violent in Paris. Protestors set cars alight and smashed up luxury homes and shops.
The unrest is the worst the capital has seen for almost 50 years.
“The fuel tax was the spark,” Thierry Paul Valette, a protest coordinator, said. ”If it hadn’t been (that), it would have been something else. People want fair fiscal justice. They want social justice.”
The Yellow Vest movement has no leaders but is trying to organise and choose legitimate representatives to negotiate with the government.
But earlier this week some members of the group that were set to meet the prime minister pulled out of a meeting with Mr Philippe because they said they had received death threats from hardline protesters warning them not to enter into negotiations with the government.
Agencies contributed to this report
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies