Anti-Sarkozy protests subsiding

9th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 9, 2007 (AFP) - French protesters clashed with police and burned cars for a third night after the victory of president-elect Nicolas Sarkozy but the interior minister said Wednesday that the violence was dying down.

PARIS, May 9, 2007 (AFP) - French protesters clashed with police and burned cars for a third night after the victory of president-elect Nicolas Sarkozy but the interior minister said Wednesday that the violence was dying down.

Some 200 cars were torched and 80 people arrested overnight, fewer than the 365 vehicles set alight on Monday and the 730 cars ignited on Sunday in the hours following the rightwinger's defeat of the Socialist Segolene Royal.

"We have had over the past three days a situation that is unacceptable simply because the voters have spoken," said Interior Minister Francois Baroin.

"What has happened in the streets over the past three days, which is now subsiding... shows that there are movements that are clearly politically militant, openly extremist from the left," he told France Info radio.

Sarkozy, a tough-talking former interior minister, is hated by many in the immigrant-heavy suburbs that exploded into riots in 2005 for his hard stance on law and order and immigration.

Royal had warned that France could slide into unrest if the right-winger won the election.

Protests turned violent on Tuesday in Paris and in the second city of Lyon while the offices of Sarkozy's governing UMP party were set on fire in the town of Villeurbanne, near Lyon.

About 150 protestors shouting "Sarko, fascist!" clashed with police in the Bastille district of Paris late Tuesday but the violence was on a smaller scale than the previous night when cars were burned, windows smashed and two shops looted.

Police said members of far-left groups and anarchists were involved in the clashes in the cities and that there were also incidents in the high-immigrant suburbs.

"We are not really talking about troublemakers in the suburbs, but apparently ... about young people on an ideological crusade," said Jean-Claude Delage of the Alliance union representing law enforcement officers.

In Lyon, some 200 demonstrators clashed with police in the city centre on Tuesday and the offices of the governing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party in nearby Villeurbanne was set on fire and its windows smashed.

The Mayor of Lyon Gerard Collomb, a socialist, condemned the violence and joined the chorus of appeals from the defeated camp for calm and to accept the election outcome.

"I can understand the disappointment, the sadness even, of all those who did not vote for Mr Sarkozy," said Collomb, "but we must serenely respect the result of the presidential election."

In suburbs south of Paris, youths set fire to a nursery school in Montgeron and torched four cars in a parking garage in Grigny late Tuesday following clashes with police.

Small groups of youths threw molotov cocktails at police but dispersed after reinforcements were sent in who used tear gas to quell the violence.

Several cars were set on fire in the suburbs of the southern city of Toulouse on Tuesday, and a Renault car showroom was set on fire during clashes with police, fire services said.

Some 600 people were arrested and 730 vehicles torched during the first night of violence on Sunday in which 78 police officers were injured.
 
Police said 160 people were arrested on Tuesday.     

Sarkozy on Monday left France for Malta for a three-day break and to prepare to take over from Jacques Chirac next Wednesday.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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