Corsica Macron: Nationalist protest ahead of visit

People hold flags during street protests in Ajaccio, Corsica on 3 February 2018. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Thousands of Corsicans protested in Ajaccio to back linguistic recognition and greater devolution

Thousands of Corsicans have held a rally to call for greater autonomy from France.

Correspondents say the rally was staged as a shot across the bows of the French government ahead of President Emmanuel Macron's visit on Tuesday.

The nationalists are not seeking independence, but they do want more financial devolution and recognition for the Corsican language.

Mr Macron has said he will not agree to changing France's constitution.

Tuesday's visit will mark the 20th anniversary of the targeted killing of France's top official on the island, Claude √Črignac, during a wave of violence orchestrated by the National Liberation Front of Corsica (FLNC),

The FLNC, a separatist militant group, declared a ceasefire in 2014.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Some demonstrators wore backpacks with signs reading "#democracy"

The local authorities said about 6,000 demonstrators were at Saturday's protest in the capital Ajaccio.

But the protest's organisers put the figure at 25,000.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The protest aimed to put pressure on Mr Macron to give the island greater autonomy

Corsican nationalists have been emboldened by a resounding win in December's elections.

Although a ceasefire has been in place since 2014, Corsica's current leader, Gilles Simeoni - a moderate nationalist - issued a warning earlier this week in an interview with Reuters that Paris would be "playing with fire" if it did not engage with Corsica's issues.

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