Paris [France], March 22: Police arrested some 142 people in the French capital overnight during street protests that followed the finalisation of the government's pensions reforms, with the fierce political row showing little sign of abating. Eleven police officers were injured, broadcaster BFMTV reported, citing police sources. Reports said demonstrations also broke out in other cities, including Saint-Étienne, Strasbourg, Amiens, Caen and Toulouse.
President Emmanuel Macron plans to meet Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and the leaders of various political groups on Tuesday to tackle the fallout from the previous political developments. The government on Monday survived two no-confidence votes triggered by its decision to force through the highly-debated legislation without a vote in the lower house of parliament. About 2,000 police officers were deployed in Paris alone to tackle the unrest, BFMTV reported. Some demonstrators set fire to rubbish bins and carried placards calling for Macron to resign or threatening to take arms against the government.
Politicians from both the right and the left have called for Borne to resign. The reform to gradually raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 was passed on Monday evening after the rejection of two motions of no confidence tabled by the opposition.However, the outcome of Monday's votes was narrower than expected by many, in what was seen as a blow to the government. Currently, the retirement age in France is 62. However, retirement begins later on average: those not paid enough for a full pension must work longer.
The reform aims to close a looming gap in France's pension fund. There have been repeated strikes and violent protests against the reform for weeks. Further strikes and protests are planned for Thursday.Opposition parties are expected to refer the dispute to a Constitutional Council on Tuesday.
Source: Qatar Tribune