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incandescent night in Paris and in several cities of France

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The conflict over pension reform continued on Thursday, with renewed mobilization and images of unprecedented violence on the ninth day of mobilization. Incidents broke out in Paris and several major French cities.

A rising mobilization and scenes of violence in several French cities: here is the assessment after the 9th national day, Thursday March 23, against the pension reform and before new demonstrations planned for March 28.

Entering its third month, the protest against the controversial executive law brought together between 1.089 million (Interior) and 3.5 million (CGT) demonstrators on Thursday. Sign that the 49.3 decided by the government and the intervention, the day before, of the President of the Republic did not cool the ardor of the opponents.

In the Brest procession, Aurélie Thieffry, 35, extracurricular animator in Finistère, said she was convinced of being able to push back the executive: “It’s going to be complicated but with a little organization, it’s possible to arrive”.

“We feel that there is an extremely strong momentum from the population, a public opinion which is largely convinced and so that is as long as there is a calendar which allows us to act, we are mobilized”, commented Marylise Léon , No. 2 of the CFDT at the end of the inter-union which gave another appointment Tuesday to the demonstrators and strikers, with local union rallies this weekend.

The unions, reassured by the mobilization figures, were also cheered up by processions where young people clearly came in greater numbers.

>> “We must block everything!” : in Paris, anger rumbles against Emmanuel Macron and the government

Anything but a surprise as its eruption had been predicted since the start of the mobilization: the violence, which had so far only been sporadic, also made a spectacular appearance in the game between the government and the unions.

Door of the town hall of Bordeaux set on fire, “scenes of chaos” denounced by the mayor of Rennes, water cannons in Lille and Toulouse, demonstrator with a thumb torn off in Rouen, police station targeted in Lorient (Morbihan) … The violence have gone up a notch. Almost everywhere in the metropolises. “Unacceptable”, judged the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne.

Protesters run in tear gas smoke next to a street fire on the sidelines of a protest against pension reform in Toulouse, southwestern France, March 23, 2023. © Charly Triballeau, AFP

The executive remains inflexible on the pension reform

In Paris, violence broke out at the head of the demonstration with their share of broken windows and destroyed street furniture, and incidents continued in the evening in the wake of so-called “wild” processions. Countdown to a parade where the vast majority of protesters marched peacefully.

During a rally against pension reform in Nantes, western France, on March 23, 2023.
During a rally against pension reform in Nantes, western France, on March 23, 2023. © Loic Venance, AFP

Trash lights, sirens and flashing lights streaked on a night when clusters of protesters played cat and mouse with law enforcement.

The Minister of the Interior reported 172 arrests in France, and 149 injured in the ranks of the police, according to a provisional report given around 10 p.m. The Paris police headquarters reported 103 people arrested in the capital. Gérald Darmanin denounced the violence of “thugs who often came from the far left”.

The executive’s strategy, “it’s a minority strategy to rot a social movement and scare people by using violence, and I dare to speak of police violence”, according to Catherine Perret, confederal secretary of the CGT .

The anti-basin mobilizations in Deux-Sèvres this weekend and the arrival of King Charles III next week in France, in the midst of a social crisis, promise in any case a big challenge for an executive determined to play order. The latter remains inflexible on his reform. Emmanuel Macron had defended tooth and nail, Wednesday, a “necessary” reform for public finances, assuming his “unpopularity”.

>> Pension reform: the untruths of Emmanuel Macron

At the end of this new episode of a conflict from which neither camp seems to be seeking a way out, the political leaders of the left invited, on Thursday, the French to further amplify the protest against the pension reform, Fabien Roussel calling for “putting the country at a standstill”, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon to “throw all forces into battle”.

For Marine Le Pen, unfortunate finalist in the last presidential election, “Emmanuel Macron can no longer govern alone, he must now come back to the people”.

With AFP

France 24-Trans

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