UPDATES NUMBER OF ARRESTS, FIRES PUT OUT, COMMENT BY PARIS POLICE CHIEF
By Nur Asena Erturk
ANKARA (AA) - Tensions rose in France after protests broke out on Monday over the adoption of a controversial pension reform plan.
Protesters gathered in Paris and many other cities, where some set fire to dumpsters and trash, and targeted various buildings.
Police arrested at least 234 people in Paris and 240 fires have been extinguished, while 2,000 people formed small mobile groups in the capital, Paris police chief Laurent Nunez told broadcaster BFMTV on Tuesday.
Tense scenes were also witnessed in Rennes, Lyon, Toulouse, Marseille, and many other French cities throughout the night.
After the adoption of the reform plan, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said she will immediately head to the constitutional council, in charge of checking bills' compliance with the French Constitution.
President Emmanuel Macron will have a busy schedule Tuesday: he will receive the prime minister, then the presidents of the National Assembly and the Senate, political party leaders, ministers, and members of the majority in the parliament, local media reported.
Macron will also speak to broadcasters France 2 and TF1 on Wednesday afternoon.
The French government used special constitutional powers last week to force the plan through, prompting opposing parties to submit no-confidence motions over the measure that would increase the retirement age.
Members of the parliament rejected both censure motions, however, thus officially adopting the draft bill.
Protesters raised slogans against the government, President Emmanuel Macron, and the pension reform plan.
Macron and Borne recently held a meeting after the Senate adopted the final version of the draft bill before it was submitted to a parliamentary vote.
They decided to invoke Article 49.3 of the Constitution, a mechanism that lets the government adopt the draft bill without parliamentary approval.
The decision was driven by fear that lawmakers would be able to block the reforms as the government does not hold an absolute majority in the legislature.
Opposing parties then submitted no-confidence motions in parliament, while the protests were held and ongoing strikes extended in many sectors, including oil refineries and public transportation, against the move.
The government revealed the reform project in January and parliament started examining and debating the draft bill the following month.
Workers and trade unions have since expressed growing outrage by holding demonstrations and walkouts.
The reform project includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 in 2030, requiring at least 43 years of work to be eligible for a full pension.