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The Latest: Leading protest activist: Macron must speak out

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on mass protests in France (all times local):

4:10 p.m.

One of the activists leading France’s protest movement says that he fears more deaths if Saturday’s demonstration goes ahead, and called for President Emmanuel Macron to speak out and bring calm.

Christophe Chalencon said that “if not there will be chaos,” with risks of more deaths.

Chalencon said in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press that the grassroots movement, triggered by fuel tax hikes, has grown amid Macron’s silence.

Four people have died since protests began in November. Violent rampaging last Saturday devastated the French capital.

Chalencon, a 52-year-old blacksmith, said the public needed Macron to “admit he made a mistake, with simple words … that touch the guts and heart of the French.”

He said the prime minister’s announcement Tuesday of a freeze on tax hikes “had no resonance.”

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11 a.m.

The concessions made by France’s prime minister in a bid to stop the huge and violent anti-government demonstrations that have been rocking France over the past three weeks, seem to have so far failed to convince protesters, with trade unions and farmers now threatening to join the fray.

A day after Edouard Philippe announced a suspension of planned fuel tax hikes that kicked off protests, the “yellow vest” protest movement showed no sign of slowing down on Wednesday. Students opposed to a university application system remained mobilized, trucking unions called for a rolling strike and France’s largest farm union threatened to launch protests next week.

A joint statement from the CGT and FO trucking unions protesting a cut to overtime rates called for action from Sunday night.

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