PARIS (Reuters) - A French mayor who went on hunger strike a week ago to demand emergency aid for his town ended his protest on Thursday and packed up the tent he had been sleeping in outside parliament after the government met his demands.
“I regret that things came to that but it was necessary,” Stephane Gatignon, mayor of Sevran, a poor town on the outskirts of Paris, told Reuters.
Gatignon slept six nights on the pavement outside the National Assembly to press his demand for 5 million euros ($6.4 million) of rescue aid, saying the economic crisis was pushing Sevran and dozens of other poor towns to the brink of ruin.
France’s cash-strapped government is seeking to slash its deficit in line with broader efforts to end a debt crisis that has plagued Europe for three years.
While the government is urging local authorities to do their part, it will increase aid to many of the poorest towns next year in a budget package that the lower house of parliament approved this week.
Gatignon said the government had indicated it was willing to deploy those funds in a way that would satisfy his demands. The office of urban affairs minister Francois Lamy did not respond to requests for comment.
The Sevran mayor looked weary but relieved after six days of consuming nothing but sugary tea.
“Today it’ll be a bit of broth, then some soup and slowly back to normal eating,” Gatignon said.
Reporting by Emile Picy and Brian Love; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Robin Pomeroy