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Edouard Philippe plans to ban 'unlawful' protests, violence

Amid ongoing Yellow Vest protests across the country, France's prime minister said his government plans to strictly punish "troublemakers" holding unlawful protests and causing violence through a new draft law.

Speaking to French broadcaster TF1 on Monday, Edouard Philippe said the government cannot accept people who participate in the protests to show violence.

He further stressed that France will support a "new law punishing those who don't respect the requirement to declare [protests], those who take part in unauthorized demonstrations and those who arrive at demonstrations wearing face masks."

Since the Yellow Vest demonstrations began, 5,600 were arrested and more than 1,000 were sentenced to prison, said Philippe.

The French premier asserted that 80,000 members of security forces will be deployed at the countrywide protests to take place Saturday.

Yellow Vest protests 

The Yellow Vest protests, which started as a reaction to fuel tax hikes and evolved into a protest against French President Emmanuel Macron, have continued despite the government’s call for them to halt. 

Since Nov. 17, thousands of protesters wearing bright yellow vests -- dubbed the Yellow Vests -- have gathered in major French cities, including the capital Paris, to protest Macron's controversial fuel tax hikes and the deteriorating economic situation. 

Demonstrators held protests blocking roads and traffic, and also blocked the entrance and exits to many gas stations and factories across the country. 

The protesters, who generally live in rural areas due to high rents in the cities, have called on Macron to cut fuel taxes and ease their economic difficulties. 

Under pressure from the protests, Macron announced a raise in the minimum wage and also scuttled controversial fuel tax hikes. 

At least 10 people died and more than a thousand others were wounded in the protests. 

*Beyza Binnur Donmez contributed to this story from Ankara

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