The number of people who have been killed as a direct result of the ongoing “yellow vest” protests in France has reached double digits after a car accident on Friday near Perpignan killed at least one. This latest casualty brings the number of fatalities linked to the protests up to 10. The majority of the others were also killed in vehicle collisions, likely a result of protestors blocking the roads.
“At a roundabout blocked by the gilets jaunes, a man in his car hit a truck in front of him. The driver of the car died,” said a spokeswoman from the city of Perpignan, according to CNN.
France has been seeing the rise of the yellow vests, also called the gilets jaunes, since the middle of November, when French citizens began taking to the streets in opposition of a new fuel tax. As a further sign of protest against government regulations, the demonstrators donned their reflective vests — which the government mandates be carried by motorists at all time while driving. The collective anger against the tax has now morphed into a protest of French president Emmanuel Macron as well as the “high cost of living, low wages, and treatment of pensioners,” according to the Daily Express.
Macron issued a public apology to the demonstrators in the second week of December and has made moves to meet their demands, but many of the yellow vests, as well as some French politicians, have called for his resignation and a no-confidence vote. Despite the damage control, the amount of violence in French streets — especially in Paris, according to ABC — has led many to believe that Macron lacks the leadership ability to quell the unrest. Some experts are convinced Macron will be ousted in 2019.
As the riots continue, Macron traveled to Africa over the weekend to meet with the leadership of Chad. According to France 24, the meeting is in response to the growing Russian influence in the Central African Republic (CAR). Since late 2017, Russia has been supplying the CAR with military aid, as well as deploying both Russian soldiers and private military contractors — who are working in training and advising roles. Some experts believe Paris fears Moscow will continue to win influence on the continent. Some also see similarities between the relationship Russia is developing with the CAR and the relationship Russia enjoys with the Syrian government.
“It fears that the Russians are going to replace them as the CAR’s main patron,” said IFRI’s Africa Centre researcher Thierry Vircoulon while speaking to France 24.