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France u-turns on protest ban

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 01:48

French trade unions say a protest march in Paris on Thursday will go ahead after all, in an apparent volte-face by the government after an earlier decision to ban the demonstration provoked an outcry. David Pollard reports.

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An old tradition facing a new threat - France pondering a possible ban on a protest march through Paris on Thursday. That threat has now gone after talks between unions and the government. Even if the anger it stirred hasn't. (SOUNDBITE) (French) CGT UNION LEADER, PHILIPPE MARTINEZ, SAYING: "It was a serious threat for a fundamental right which the constitution guarantees, the right to demonstrate." (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH INTERIOR MINISTER BERNARD CAZENEUVE, SAYING: "I call on the organisers for responsibility. No misbehaviour, no violence will be tolerated." And on the streets, a sense too that a revolutionary ideal was under attack. (SOUNDBITE) (French) PARIS RESIDENT, RICHARD, SAYING: "It's not legal in our Republic, they have the right to demonstrate." (SOUNDBITE) (French) PARIS RESIDENT, ANAIS, SAYING: "I think it's a lack of open mindedness with regards to democracy today." But there's also a sense, say France watchers, of protest fatigue. A desire to move on - even if that means accepting a controversial set of labour reforms. After November's militant attacks - and amid violence at the Euro 2016 tournament - French police say they're already stretched to breaking point - a protest ban necessary for security reasons. The march will now go ahead on a new, different route. On reform, President Hollande seen as having little choice but to stay his course, according to investors. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HENDERSON GLOBAL INVESTORS, HEAD OF GLOBAL EQUITIES, MATTHEW BEESLEY, SAYING: "We would see it as a very positive sign, and something that is perhaps necessary if not essential to allow France to move forward and catch up where other European countries have led when it comes to economic recovery after the euro zone crisis." France's last protest ban in 1962 - ended in defiance - and nine people dead in subsequent clashes.

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France u-turns on protest ban

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 01:48