DUBAI, Feb 11 — France’s image remains “intact” but investors have begun to ask questions as anti-government protests reach their 13th week, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said yesterday.
“France’s image remains intact, but I will be frank: There are also many questions being asked by investors, political leaders and private actors,” Le Maire told AFP in response to a question on whether the weekly demonstrations, known as the “yellow vest” movement, have impacted his country’s economic standing.
The minister, who spoke on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai, said a “comprehensive response” to “inequalities” and “injustices” was needed.
Meanwhile, in a rare show of unity, politicians from all France’s major parties condemned an arson attack on the Brittany home of parliament speaker Richard Ferrand, which he has suggested was carried out by anti-government forces.
Ferrand is a close ally of President Emmanuel Macron. On Friday, he tweeted pictures of the damage caused by the fire, which blackened a wall and charred the patio doors. The house was unoccupied at the time of the fire, which did not appear to have caused extensive damage.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, which follows several attacks on the homes or offices of members of Macron’s Republic on the Move party since the start of the yellow vest protests.
On Saturday, a protester attending a Paris rally had four fingers blown off, apparently after handling a grenade fired by police to repel demonstrators who clashed with officers near the National Assembly.
The police have come under criticism for their liberal use of grenades and rubber bullets during the protests. Dozens of people have been seriously injured.
Le Maire championed Macron’s efforts to transform the economy, while stressing the need to pay more attention “to those who feel marginalised.”
Macron has made commitments “to a fundamental transformation of the French economic model,” Le Maire said.
“We will complete this transformation… because it has begun to yield results, including a level of growth that remains solid despite European and global uncertainty.”
Despite a drop in numbers from the massive turnouts of the first “yellow vest” demonstrations in November, tens of thousands continue to turn out in cities across France to protest Macron’s policies.
They are demanding fairer taxation on middle- to low-income households. — AFP
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