French plan for army backup in ‘yellow vest’ protests draws fire

22 March, 2019 12:00 AM printer

PARIS: The French government’s decision to deploy the army as backup during Saturday’s weekly “yellow vest” protests has drawn fire, with the opposition warning of the risk of using soldiers for law and order, reports AFP.

Under pressure to prevent a repeat of last weekend’s rioting and looting on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, the government on Wednesday announced plans to redeploy soldiers from the anti-terrorism Sentinelle patrol force to help police guard public buildings.

This will free more police to tackle demonstrators head-on in case of renewed violence in Paris and other cities, the government said.

Opposition parties from both the left and right reacted with outrage to the plan, calling it irresponsible.

“I am absolutely against using the army in this way. It’s a serious mistake,” Bruno Retailleau, leader of the main opposition Republicans in the Senate told a debate programme on the France 5 television channel Wednesday evening.