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France suspends recent fuel taxes for 6 months

French president Emmanuel Macron
French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced on Tuesday a suspension of fuel tax increases planned for January 1 in a move to end violent "Yellow Vest" protests against the measure.

"No tax merits putting the unity of the nation in danger," Philippe said in a televised address, adding that the anger on the streets "originates from a profound injustice: of not being able to live with dignity from one's work".

He also announced that increases in the cost of gas and electricity, also set to take effect from January 1, would be suspended for three months during the winter months.

Philippe added that a tightening of the technical assessment for cars, which was set to penalize heavily polluting older vehicles, would also be suspended for six months.

The measures are an attempt to take the heat out of anti-government protests by low-income people in small-town and rural France who have blocked roads and demonstrated for more than a fortnight.

Protests in Paris on Saturday degenerated into some of the worst violence in years in the capital, which saw more than 200 vehicles torched and the Arc de Triomphe vandalized.

Philippe said the protesters and the government shared the same objective -- "that work pays" -- and acknowledged that France had some of the highest taxes in Europe.