French President Emmanuel Macron also announced other measures, such as tax cuts for lower-income households and to boost pensions and help single parents to decrease yellow vest protesters' grievances.

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the French nation following a massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, April 16, 2019.
French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the French nation following a massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. (Reuters)

President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday vowed to press ahead with his government’s programme to transform France, adding public order must be restored after months of protests.

"The transformations that are in progress and the transformations that are essential for our country should not be stopped,” Macron said in a long-awaited news conference at the Elysee Palace. 

He vowed that after almost half a year of sometimes violent “yellow vest” protests against his rule, “today, above all, public order will return and with it an essential accord” in French society.

Macron spoke to the nation from the Elysee presidential palace after three months of national debate aimed at addressing the protesters' concerns through town hall meetings and collecting complaints online.

He also unveiled tax cuts for lower-income households and measures to boost pensions and help single parents. 

While his promises are expected to respond to some demonstrators' grievances, other critics are likely to dismiss them as too little, too late. 

The protesters want more income equality and see the centrist Macron, a former investment banker, as leading a French government that favours the rich.

TRT World's Oliver Whitfield-Miocic has more from Paris.

Many French protesters say they can't pay their bills due to the high cost of living.

Macron was expected to make his economic announcements last week, but postponed them when the April 15 fire at Notre Dame Cathedral broke out.

Government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye said Macron's party leaders and government members will meet on Monday to figure out the best schedule to implement the new measures.

The yellow vests, named after the fluorescent jackets French motorists are required to keep in their cars, have been protesting for 23 consecutive weeks. 

The numbers of protesters have dwindled in recent weeks amid internal divisions, but they remain a challenge to Macron's government.

'I'm tired'

A leading figure of the yellow vests, truck driver Eric Drouet, announced on Wednesday on Facebook that he was "taking a break."

"I'm tired, sorry," he wrote, referring to comments, insults, and threats against his family that he suggested had come from within the protest movement.

The movement started in November as a protest against a fuel tax hike and quickly expanded into broader public rejections of Macron's economic policies.

Macron has already made some concessions, but they failed to extinguish the anger of the yellow vest movement. 

In December, he abandoned the fuel tax hike, scrapped a tax increase for retirees and introduced a $113 monthly bonus to increase the minimum wage, a package estimated at $11.5 billion.

But Macron has repeatedly refused to reintroduce a wealth tax on the country's richest people —one of the protesters' main demands.

French polls show that Macron's popularity has hovered around low levels for more than a year. Macron's numbers have turned up recently as the yellow vest protests turned violent and he traversed the country taking part in the national debate.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies