King Charles III’s visit to France postponed over protests

By Adamu Jubril
March 24, 2023, 7:53 p.m.

King Charles III

Violent protests against pensions reform in France led to the postponement Friday of King Charles III’s trip to the country, highlighting the growing security and political problems faced by President Emmanuel Macron.

The French president has condemned the violence overnight, but the Council of Europe has criticised the “excessive use of force” by some police officers during recent demonstrations.

Charles’ first foreign trip as monarch had been intended to highlight warming Franco-British relations. Instead, it has underlined the severity of demonstrations engulfing Britain’s neighbour.

Macron asked for the postponement during talks on Friday morning, a UK government spokesperson said, the change blamed on a call for fresh strikes next Tuesday on the second day of the king’s tour.

The decision to postpone was made “in order to be able to welcome His Majesty King Charles III in conditions which reflect our friendly relations”, Macron’s office said.

Police arrested more than 450 people on Thursday, according to interior ministry figures. In addition, 441 members of the security forces were injured during the most violent day of protests since the start of the year against Macron’s bid to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

More than 900 fires were lit around Paris, with radical anarchist groups blamed for setting uncollected rubbish ablaze and smashing shop windows, leading to frequent clashes with riot police.

But rights groups, magistrates and left-wing politicians have also denounced alleged police brutality in recent days.

And the Council of Europe — the continent’s leading human rights watchdog — on Friday warned that sporadic acts of violence “cannot justify excessive use of force by agents of the state” or “deprive peaceful protesters of their right to freedom of assembly”.

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