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Fall in Yellow Vest numbers after Macron's proposed reforms
The Yellow Vests, joined by France's CGT trade union, marched for their 24th consecutive weekend on Saturday. Clashes between police and demonstrators were reported in Strasbourg
Despite measures announced by President Macron to appease France's working and rural middle classes, the Yellow Vests demonstrated for their 24th consecutive week in several French cities and towns, including Strasbourg, Toulouse and Paris.
Government figures say nearly 24,000 protesters demonstrated all over France Saturday afternoon, of which around 3000 marched in Paris. Last week, the same sources said there were 9000 protesters in Paris.
The Yellow Vests contest the figure, citing over 60,000 protesters in France on Saturday.
Trade unions and far-left leaders join march
The Paris march, organised by the militant CGT union, came ahead of the main yellow vest march in the eastern city of Strasbourg, where protesters clashed with police trying to enforce a ban in parts of the city centre.
n a new development, many senior figures from the radical left marched with them, including Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of France Unbowed and one of Macron's most vocal critics.
Welcoming this show of political unity, Melenchon told BFM TV: "It's the first time that there has been a call of this kind, that's to say union organisations, associations and political movements."
Clashes in Strasbourg
In Strasbourg, police sealed off access to the major European institutions in the city in line with a ban by local officials on demonstrations in parts of the city centre.
The march started peacefully but clashes broke out after police blocked the route of the protesters to the European Parliament building, AFP journalists said. Some protesters threw stones and bottles at riot police, who fired rounds of tear gas.
Earlier, police pushed back a group of activists, some of them masked and dressed in black, who tried to force their way through to the Council of Europe building.
Local officials said around 2,000 people took part in the Strasbourg protest.
The Paris march passed off peacefully, and organisers see it as a dry run for Wednesday's May Day rally that will bring together several unions from different sectors.
A separate Paris march of a few hundred 'yellow vests' protested media coverage of the movement and smaller marches also took place in several other French cities.
France's finance minister promised Friday that some 15 million households would benefit from tax cuts announced by President Emmanuel Macron, but the move did little to calm tempers among "yellow vest" protesters.
In a major address on Thursday night, the French leader promised a new round of tax cuts worth 5.0 billion euros ($5.5 billion) as part of a raft of measures in answer to five months of anti-government street protests over the high cost of living.
But the speech, which was billed as a turning point for Macron's troubled presidency, sparked a mixed reaction on Friday and failed to win over those whose weekly protests had triggered the crisis.
(With AFP and French media)