Macron says 'yellow vest' violence perverts movement

PARIS - French President Emmanuel Macron condemned Monday "the nihilism of the violence" which has perverted the "yellow vest" movement following violent demonstrations at the weekend marking its first anniversary.

"When hate strikes and in the name of ideals destruction takes place in the street, too many voices are silent and then become accomplices, too many voices confuse ideals with the nihilism of violence," Macron said.

While he praised "the fraternity" of those especially in rural areas at the beginning of the movement, he said some have "perverted that, looking for anonymity, violence,".

French police arrested 254 people during clashes in Paris and other cities on the first anniversary of the movement on Saturday, the interior minister said.

The violence in Paris, where police battled rioters for hours around the southeastern Place d'Italie square, was the worst in the French capital in months.

However, in rural France, the anniversary passed off generally peacefully, with thousands of yellow vests occupying the traffic roundabouts where the movement began last year over rising fuel taxes.

The leaderless yellow vests, who accuse Macron of ruling on behalf of the urban elite, are adamant that they have not gone away.

They are now looking to join forces with the trade union movement, which is planning a major transport strike over pension reforms starting on December 5. -AFP