Fuel tax protests: Belgium joins France as protesters block roads
Scores of Belgian protesters wearing the yellow vests that have become a symbol of anti-tax demonstrators in neighbouring France blocked a key road junction in central Brussels on Friday, calling on the government to resign.
Police closed several key access tunnels to the city centre, causing jams but avoiding a build-up of stalled traffic around the protest, where a Reuters journalist estimated the number of demonstrators at about 200 in late morning. Police said they had received no official request to hold such a demonstration.
There was no sign of riot police or water cannon in the immediate vicinity. Plainclothes officers monitored the protest as people sporting the fluorescent yellow safety vests that Belgian drivers must carry in their vehicles chanted complaints about fuel costs and a ruling coalition which they say is placing an undue burden on struggling low-paid households.
Protests in Belgium, notably around fuel depots in the French-speaking south, have been inspired by the yellow vest -- or "gilet jaune" -- actions in France against increases in fuel duty imposed by President Emmanuel Macron's government as part of efforts to reduce emissions causing global warming.
"Michel, resign!" people chanted on Friday at the Arts-Loi intersection, close to the office of liberal Prime Minister Charles Michel. He voiced sympathy for people's difficulties on Thursday, but added: "Money doesn't fall from the sky."
His centre-right coalition faces an election in May.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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