Protests put pressure on French government

The pressure was on the French government Wednesday after massive protests against a new law that will make it easier to fire young people.

In a massive show of solidarity by trades unionists and young people, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators poured onto France's streets Tuesday, while strikers shut down the Eiffel Tower and disrupted transport services.

As more violence erupted on the streets of Paris, police said 46 demonstrators were injured, along with five police officers, one of whom was hospitalized.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin held firm, but cracks opened in his conservative government as pressure for him to withdraw the contested measure reached unprecedented heights.

Interior Minister and potential rival presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy, in a clear break with Villepin, suggested suspending the new type of job contract for youths to allow for negotiations.

With the government in crisis, President Jacques Chirac canceled a trip planned for later in the week to stay in Paris.

As Tuesday's protests swelled, police were ordered to clear the Place de La Republique, a large square in central Paris, reports CNN.


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