Third night of anti-Sarkozy protests in France

9th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 9, 2007 (AFP) - France saw a third consecutive night of angry protests on Tuesday in the wake of the weekend election victory of right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy as president, but on a smaller scale than on previous days.

PARIS, May 9, 2007 (AFP) - France saw a third consecutive night of angry protests on Tuesday in the wake of the weekend election victory of right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy as president, but on a smaller scale than on previous days.

In eastern central Paris, around 150 protestors tried to block access to the Bastille district but were dispersed by a large number of police. Police said they arrested several people.

On Monday night, around 500 youths shouting "Sarko, fascist!" had gone on a rampage in the same area, burning 10 cars, looting two stores including a supermarket and smashing windows, police said.

More than 200 people were rounded up that night during four hours of clashes in which protesters threw stones, beer cans and bottles at police, one of whom was injured. Fifteen people remained in custody on Tuesday.

In the high-immigrant suburb of Grigny in southern Paris, meanwhile, one policeman was injured and two people arrested in running battles on Tuesday afternoon between police and groups of five or six throwing Molotov cocktails, police said.

The situation calmed down after police reinforcements arrived and tear-gassed the youths, but later in the evening there were arson attacks on a garage and a nursery school, in the first attack on a public building.

No one was injured in the arson attacks, firefighters said.

In Lyon, France's second biggest city, a peaceful demonstration during the day involving around 400 people gave way to clashes between around 200 protestors and police after nightfall, fire services said.

Several cars were set on fire, but over a dispersed area, they said.

By shortly after 11:00 pm calm was being restored, police said. Two people were arrested.

In the nearby town of Villeurbanne, protestors set fire to the local branch of Sarkozy's UMP party, police told AFP.

In the southern city of Toulouse, around 60 protestors held a peaceful demonstration on Tuesday in the city centre, where clashes had taken place on Monday and Sunday.

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

On Monday, police said that 365 cars had been torched across France on Monday night -- fewer than the 730 vehicles set on fire in the hours that followed Sarkozy's victory speech on Sunday -- and 160 people arrested, mostly members of far-left groups.

Some 600 people were arrested during the first night of violence on Sunday in which 78 police officers were injured.

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.

Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande appealed for calm on Tuesday and urged protesters to instead get their revenge at the ballot box, during legislative elections next month.

The legislative elections on June 10 and 17 will decide whether the new president will have the strong majority needed to push through his programme of tough economic and social reforms.

Socialist Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe also called for cool heads to prevail, saying that "democracy entails respect for universal suffrage and the peaceful defence of ideas."

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

Socialist Segolene Royal, whose hope of becoming France's first woman president was dashed by Sarkozy's victory, had warned that France could slide into unrest if the right-winger won the election.

Sarkozy on Monday left France for Malta for a three-day break from the hectic campaign and to prepare to take over from Jacques Chirac on May 16.

He was due to return to the France "late on Wednesday night" ahead of a ceremony for the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Paris on Thursday morning, Claude Gueant, former head of Sarkozy's election campaign team, said on Tuesday.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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