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Gilets jaunes: Philippe plans show of force to combat criminals

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French prime minister Edouard Philippe spoke for 10 minutes on TF1 about the government's response to the violence during gilets jaunes protests. AFP/Eric Feferberg / POOL / AF

French prime minister Edouard Philippe on Monday vowed to bring in laws to crackdown on the violent elements infiltrating the gilets jaunes - yellow vests - protests that have crippled cities and businesses in France for two months.


Philippe told TF1's 20 heures that around 80,000 police and gendarmes will be on duty for the ninth round of demonstrations expected on 12 January throughout the country.

The flood of officers, said Philippe, would combat criminals who have been hiding in the crowds before breaking away to smash up shops and loot.

"The freedom to demonstrate in France must be kept and we need to come down on those who don't want to obey this right," Philippe told the programme.

He said the government would discuss proposals to bring in a law restricting unauthorised protests and forcing those convicted of vandalism to pay for the damage they have caused.

Citing a system used to stop notorious football hooligans from entering grounds, the prime minister also announced plans to prevent known troublemakers from taking part in demonstrations. "That measure worked well," he said, referring to the stadium ban.

More than 5,500 people have been held in police custody and 1,000 sentences passed since the first demonstrations on 17 November 2018.

"Those who want to undermine the institutions of the state will not have the final word," said Philippe.

"Those who want to come among to destroy and loot are changing their methods and we will do the same," he added. "The security forces will be there to pick them out and bring them to justice."