Learning English - Words in the News
29 March, 2006 - Published 11:31 GMT
Mass protests in France
The French cabinet is meeting after police last night used teargas against crowds of demonstrators in Paris. It's the latest day of protests against a new employment law which has proved highly controversial. There are also signs of growing disagreement among French ministers on the way ahead. Caroline Wyatt reports.
The streets around Place de la Republique are quiet once again - but like a genie unleashed from its bottle, the deep discontent across France is proving hard to subdue.
Tuesday's mostly peaceful demonstrations turned to chaos in the very heart of Paris after ordinary demonstrators left the main square, replaced by trouble-makers keen to confront police. Anything that came to hand was used as a weapon: everything from bottles to a bicycle hurled at riot police who fought back with teargas and water cannon.
As the violence ebbed and surged for hours, France's Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, paid a surprise visit to the square to brief and congratulate his men. But this visit was a very public way, too, to put distance between himself and his main rival for the presidency next year – the French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. He remains the man at the centre of this storm - determined to ride it out, but caught between forces that are proving hard to control.
On one side is the anger on the streets and the fear that the violence will set the suburbs alight again. But pushing him the other way is his desire to be the strong man who reformed France - where all his predecessors failed.
As the nation counts the cost of this latest violence, the President Jacques Chirac will meet the cabinet, to decide 'what next' in these difficult but decisive days for France.
hard to subdue
tear gas and water cannon
ebbed and surged
put distance between himself and his main rival
at the centre of this storm
to ride it out
set the suburbs alight again
counts the cost
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