Thousands of "yellow vest" protesters took to the streets once again in France Saturday 26th January, in a protest against President Emmanuel Macron's policies, resulting in clashes with the police in several cities in a challenge to his bid to suppress the movement.
Some demonstrators threw stones from a building site at the Place de la Bastille in Paris, one of the regular protest areas, as the police fired tear gas and water cannon in an attempt to push back protesters.
The local prefecture reported 223 arrests in Paris, while the Interior Ministry estimated numbers of protestors for the 11th week of protests to be 69,000 across the country, compared with 84,000 last Saturday, 19th January.
In mid-November last year, the demonstrations began in protest over Macron's economic reforms, nonetheless they have since turned into wider rallies calling for the resignation of Macron, a former investment banker, who critics say is distant from the economic struggles of ordinary French people.
Meanwhile, in Paris and other cities, the yellow vest movement had called for the protests to continue into the night, however, the police quickly dispersed several hundred protesters in the capital's symbolic central Republique square, using stun grenades, as well as tear gas and water cannon to clear the area, AFP journalists said.
In Paris, the official count was 4,000 demonstrators against 7,000 in the previous weekend, who were met wit criticism from of the Interior Minister Christophe Castaner in a tweet calling the protesters "rioters disguised as yellow vest protesters" after yesterday’s clashes.
However, this weekend's protests against Macron's tax and social policies took place as divisions have appeared among the yellow vests as to where to take the movement on to.
A 31-year-old nurse named Ingrid Levavasseur said this week she would lead a yellow vest list of candidates for the European elections in May.
An initial survey in the wake of the announcement indicated that they would garner about 13% of the vote, however, it was not welcomed by some protestors.
"There is a hard core that is ready to keep fighting," said 42-year-old Gilbert Claro from the Paris suburbs. But the movement "is not meant to be political", he added.
"We have to keep the pressure on in the streets," to get their demands accepted, said Virginie, an activist involved in the protests from the beginning.