'Yellow vest' blockade leaves French gas stations dry

French gas giant Total on Monday said "yellow vest" protesters continue to block 11 major fuel depots, resulting in 75 gas stations running out of fuel.

A company spokesman said that if the blockade weren't lifted soon, more petrol stations could run out of fuel. In the region of Brittany, local officials have considered imposing restrictions on how much gas motorists can buy to prevent more stations from going dry.

France has been gripped by anti-government protests since French President Emmanuel Macron introduced sweeping measures to combat climate change, including a fuel tax hike. On Saturday, riots broke out in Paris, leaving scores injured and costly devastation in its wake.

Macron 'won't give in'

Protesters believe Macron needs to withdraw the reforms, citing high living costs in the country. But the government has refused to back down. Instead, Macron said last week that the protests show "that we shouldn't change course because it is the right one."

"I understand the demands of these citizens, but I won't give in to those who want destruction and disorder," he said.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that Saturday's violent protests in the capital were having knock-on effects to the economy. "The impact on the French economy was serious," Le Maire said, noting that some sectors reported a decline in sales of up to 25 percent.

Read more: Will the 'yellow vest' protests push France further to the right?

'Special protest culture'

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe convened crisis talks on Monday to respond to the violence that erupted in Paris over the weekend. He is meeting with party leaders and protest organizers to find a way forward.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he was confident that calm would return to France, adding that the country "is known for its special protest culture."

"France is needed in Europe, and we know that focusing on such disputes in a country of course consumes energy, but that is completely normal," Maas said.

Read more: French President Emmanuel Macron: Is the honeymoon over?

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ls/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters)