Buenos Aires: French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday denounced protesters against him as chaos-seekers, as the growing demonstrations first triggered by planned fuel price hikes turned violent.
“I will never accept violence,” Macron told a news conference at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires amid the massive “yellow vest” demonstrations.
“No cause justifies that authorities are attacked, that businesses are plundered, that passers-by or journalists are threatened or that the Arc du Triomphe is defiled,” he said.
Macron has tried to focus in Buenos Aires on global affairs, seeking to lead like-minded countries in taking action on challenges such as climate change in the face of resistance from US President Donald Trump.
But he was repeatedly forced to address the crisis at home, even if he took pains not to say “yellow vests” — the emergency jackets that have become the emblems of the movement initially sparked by Macron’s push for a low-carbon economy.
“Those guilty of this violence don’t want change, they don’t want improvements, they want chaos. They betray the causes that they pretend to serve and which they manipulate,” Macron said.
“They will be identified and brought to justice for their actions,” he said.
Macron said he will convene a meeting on the situation with his prime minister and interior minister for Sunday morning when he returns to Paris.
“I will always respect debate and I will always listen to opposition but I will never accept violence,” Macron said.
The protests first sprouted up in rural France among citizens who say higher fuel taxes are an urban luxury that they cannot afford.
The movement has since spread into a broader movement against Macron’s rule.
Macron had an unpleasant surprise at the very start of his trip to Buenos Aires — his plane door was opened by an airport worker clad in a yellow vest.