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Fearing more riots, France to close Eiffel Tower, Louvre, at weekend

Updated: 2018-12-07 09:45
French police forces secure the Trocadero place near the Eiffel tower during a demonstration by protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel fuel taxes, in Paris, France, Dec 1, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

PARIS - France will close the Eiffel Tower and other tourism landmarks in Paris and draft in thousands more security forces on Saturday to stave off another wave of violent protests in the country over living costs.

With protesters from the "yellow vest" movement calling on social media for "Act IV" - a fourth weekend of protest - Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said 89,000 police nationwide would be deployed to stop a repeat of last Saturday's mayhem across France.

About 8,000 of these would be deployed in Paris where rioters torched cars and looted shops off the famed Champs Elysees boulevard, and defaced the Arc de Triomphe with graffiti directed at President Emmanuel Macron.

Seeking to regain the initiative after weeks of civil unrest, the government appeared ready to offer concessions.

Philippe told the Senate he was open to new measures to help the lowest-paid workers while Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he was prepared to accelerate tax cuts for households and that he wanted workers' bonuses to be tax-free.

"I am ready to look at all measures that will help raise the pay of those on the minimum wage without doing excessive damage to our competitiveness and businesses," Philippe told the parliament's upper house.

The rush of sweeteners to soothe public anger began with Philippe's climb-down on fuel tax hikes, the first major U-turn of Macron's presidency.

Yet, five days after the worst rioting central Paris has seen since 1968, all signs are that the government has failed to quell the revolt.

A repeat of last Saturday's violence in Paris's city centre would deal a blow to the economy and raise doubts over the government's survival.

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