Umamah Bakharia | email@example.com
2 min read
16 March 2023 | 22:00 CAT
Thousand of protesters have gathered at central Paris square against French President Emmanuel Macron’s pensions reform plan as riot police used batons, tear gas and water cannons to clear the demonstrators.
Images from the scenes show police lined up with riot shields and batons drawn, heading towards the Place de la Concorde late on Thursday evening, while other forces fired water cannons after a fire was lit in the middle of the historic square.
The protestors were heading for a bridge leading to the Palais Bourbon – the meeting place of the National Assembly, France’s lower house of parliament – this was reported by news agency, Agence-France Presse.
France‘s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin instructed police to put in place “enhanced protective measures” for members of parliament due to the ongoing protests that erupted.
The protests cam as Macron ignored the French Parliament and opted to push through a highly unpopular pension reform bill that would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.
The move, citing Article 49.3 of the French Constitution, ensured that the bill was adopted, however, it also showed that Macron and his government had failed to gather enough support for a majority in parliament.
AFP said police reported making eight arrests while the broadcaster France Info cited police sources that 217 people were arrested due to unrest, including at Place de la Concorde where an estimated 6,000 demonstrators set fire to wooden pallets and threw objects at police officers.
Protests have also broke out in other French cities including Marseille, Dijon, Nantes, Rennes, Rouen, Grenoble, Toulouse and Nice due to the pension reform plan.
Meanwhile, the far-right opposition says it will file a motion of no-confidence in the government.
Macron says he wants to raise the retirement age so that workers put more money into the system, which the government says is on course to run a deficit.
The bill has been the flagship legislation for Macron’s second term even though his plan to raise the pension age has prompted large strikes and protests across the country since January.