World Bulletin / News Desk
France's Socialist government on Wednesday made good on a threat to ban a planned union demonstration in the capital, after previous protests against its hotly-contested labour reforms descended into violence.
Paris police said they had "no choice" but to deny permission for a march on Thursday that would have been the 10th since the campaign against the reforms kicked off in March.
The move followed threats of a ban by President Francois Hollande after violent clashes in the capital on June 14 marred France's image as it hosts the Euro 2016 football championships.
Union leaders demanded an immediate meeting with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, and political reaction to the ban was swift.
Dissident Socialist MP Christian Paul condemned the ban as a "historic error".
"We are within a hair's breadth of reaching a compromise on the labour law and that's when the prime minister chooses to harden his position even further," said Paul, who heads the left flank of the Socialists in parliament.
Seven unions had demanded permission to march in Paris, but the government insisted that a stationary rally would be easier to control.
Last Tuesday, Paris was engulfed in violence as hundreds of masked protesters and police fought running street battles.
Police fired water cannon in the south of the capital to quell rioters who attacked storefronts and the windows of a children's hospital.
Forty people were hurt and dozens were arrested.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen called the ban a capitulation to the masked protesters known as "casseurs" (breakers). In a tweet, she called the move a "serious violation of democracy".
Even former rightwing president Nicolas Sarkozy spoke out Tuesday against a possible ban, saying it would be "unreasonable".
Security forces stretched
France is already on high alert for security threats during Euro 2016, which has also been blighted by hooliganism, with the violent demonstrations stretching the security forces to breaking point.
Paris police said in a statement they had informed the interior ministry about their "reservations in view of the heavy demands that have weighed on the security forces for several months, the security reinforcements linked to the hosting of the Euro and the amplitude of the terrorist threat".
Prime Minister Valls has vowed to stand firm on the reforms, which are aimed at making the job market more flexible and reducing high unemployment.
Critics see the measures as too pro-business and a threat to cherished worker's rights.
The controversial labour bill is currently before the Senate, which will vote on it next Wednesday.
Unions have already called for demonstrations on the eve of the ballot.
They are furious the government rammed the reforms through the lower house of parliament without a vote.
Hollande, who faces a re-election bid next April, had hoped for a signature reform to reverse his approval ratings, which are among the worst of a modern French leader.
Last Mod: 22 Haziran 2016, 11:46