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Paris New Year's Eve bash is on despite 'yellow vest' protests

The Champs-Elysees has since last month been the epicentre of repeated violent protests against President Emmanuel Macron's government, with the Arc de Triomphe ransacked on 1 December.

FILE: An injured Yellow vest (Gilet jaune) protestor looks on on the Champs Elysees in Paris, during a protest against rising oil prices and living costs. 
Police fired tear gas and water cannon on November 24 in central Paris against "yellow vest" protesters demanding French President roll back tax hikes on motor fuel. Picture: AFP.

PARIS - New Year's Eve celebrations on the Champs-Elysees in Paris will go ahead despite plans for another "yellow vest" anti-government protest on the famed avenue, city officials said on Thursday.

Tens of thousands of tourists and locals traditionally ring in the new year on the wide shopping boulevard, which ends with the Arc de Triomphe monument.

The Champs-Elysees has since last month been the epicentre of repeated violent protests against President Emmanuel Macron's government, with the Arc de Triomphe ransacked on 1 December.

While the numbers turning out at protests across the country have dwindled dramatically, some "yellow vests" have called online for a New Year's Eve protest on the Champs-Elysees.

On Facebook 7,400 people are listed as planning to attend what it calls a "festive and non-violent event".

Paris officials said they would continue as planned with preparations for a fireworks display and sound and light show on the Champs-Elysees under the theme "fraternity".

The avenue is a regular gathering point for national celebrations such as Bastille Day, the Tour de France and France's victory this summer in the football World Cup.

But on recent Saturdays it has been the scene of violent clashes between riot police and "yellow vest" protesters who accuse Macron of favouring the rich with his policies.

The movement sprang up online in October and spiralled into the worst crisis of Macron's presidency, with tens of thousands blocking roads and protesting across France.

Macron sought to defuse the crisis in mid-December by announcing a 10 billion euro ($11.4 billion) package of measures to help pensioners and low-paid workers.

Since then the "yellow vests" have been split between moderates willing to engage in dialogue with the government and others intent on remaining at the barricades.

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