Paris, Jan 13 (IANS) Thousands of demonstrators turned out across France for new “yellow vest” protests, with dozens of arrests and clashes in Paris and other cities.
Police in the capital used water cannon and tear gas as scuffles broke out at the Arc de Triomphe on the ninth consecutive weekend of protests, the BBC reported on Sunday.
Some 84,000 demonstrators were recorded nationwide, an increase compared with last week, official figures show.
The nationwide protests were initially triggered by the rising price of fuel. They have since widened to include anger at the cost of living, with a wide-ranging list of other demands.
Thousands of officers were deployed across Paris, which has previously seen street clashes and vandalism, to tackle the protesters, and parts of the city centre were blocked off by riot police.
Some 8,000 demonstrators were on the streets – more than in the past two weekends, when authorities counted just 3,500 people on January 5 and 800 on December 29, according to Interior Ministry figures.
There were also thousands of protesters in the cities of Bordeaux and Toulouse in southern France as well as Strasbourg in the east and the central city of Bourges, the site of another major rally, where more than 6,000 people took to the streets.
Nationwide, 244 people were arrested, of which 201 remained in custody, police said.
Some 80,000 police officers were deployed nationwide to face the protesters.
French President Emmanuel Macron had said that a national debate is due to kick off on January 15 in response to weeks of protests by the “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests).
It will be held publicly in town halls across France and on the internet, and will focus on four themes: taxes, green energy, institutional reform and citizenship.