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Protests in Tunisia's phosphate regions threaten economy

The recurrent disruption of phosphate production puts Tunisia's economy in the face of new challenges.
Unemployed tunisians sit outside the headquarters of the Phosphate Gafsa Company (CPG) in hopes of employment in the local mines of Metlaoui on February 16, 2011. The phosfate mines of Gafsa, in the central-ouestern region of Tunisia are paralized by a civil demonstration for employment blocking acces to the mines. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
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TUNIS, Tunisia — Protests that had paralyzed all extracting production and transport activities March 9 at the Gafsa Phosphate Company (CPG), the main state operator in Tunisia, have been dispersed and production has resumed.

Since Jan. 20, large protests and sit-ins were staged in phosphate-producing cities, including in Redeyef, Moulares, Metlaoui and Mdhila, in the Gafsa governorate mining basin in the southwest of the country. According to the governmental institution Statistiques Tunisie, the unemployment rate in this province is as high as 28.8%.

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