Macron to break silence, address French nation amid protests


    FILE - In this Nov.27, 2018 file photo, French President Emmanuel Macron leaves after delivering a speech on 'The presentation of the strategy for ecology transition', at the Elysee Palace in Paris. (Ian Langsdon, Pool via AP, File)

    PARIS (AP) — Pressure mounted on French President Emmanuel Macron to announce concrete measures to calm protests marked by violence when he addresses the nation Monday evening, and breaks a long silence widely seen as aggravating a crisis that has shaken the government and the whole country.

    The president will consult in the morning with an array of national and local officials as he tries to get a handle on the ballooning and radicalizing protest movement triggered by anger at his policies, and a growing sense that they favor the rich.

    Macron will speak from the presidential Elysee Palace at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT), an Elysee official said. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

    Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said earlier on LCI TV station he was "sure (Macron) will know how to find the path to the hearts of the French, speak to their hearts." But, he added, a "magic wand" won't solve all the problems of the protesters, known as "yellow vests" for the fluorescent safety vests they often wear.

    Riot police officer stand in front a burning trash bin during clashes, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 in Marseille, southern France. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

    Last week, Macron withdrew a fuel tax hike — the issue that kicked off protests in mid-November — in an effort to appease the protesters, but the move was seen as too little too late.

    For many protesters, Macron himself, widely seen as arrogant and disconnected from rank-and-file French, has become the problem. Calls for him to resign were rampant on Saturday, the fourth weekend of large-scale protests.

    "Macron is there for the rich, not for all the French," 68-year-old retiree Jean-Pierre Meunuer said Saturday.

    Retirees are among the categories to be punished by his policies.

    Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud dampened any notion that the minimum wage would be raised, telling LCI that "there will be no boost for the Smic (minimum wage)," because "it destroys jobs."

    Paris tourist sites reopened Sunday, while workers cleaned up debris from protests that left widespread damage in the capital and elsewhere. At least 71 were injured in Paris on Saturday.

    The economy minister, meanwhile, lamented the damage to the economy.