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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 November 2004, 15:35 GMT
Unrest blocks Ivory Coast cocoa
A farmer in Ivory Coast holding a cocoa pod
Most cocoa is grown in the government-held south
Shipments of cocoa from Ivory Coast, the world's biggest producer, remain blocked following three days of unrest.

The country's two ports were shut down on Monday, after a ceasefire broke down and French bombing of the country's air force sparked rioting.

A lull on Tuesday brought cocoa prices in London down 6% to 953 a tonne, having leapt the day before.

But makeshift roadblocks and troops on the streets in the capital Abidjan mean the cocoa industry remains in limbo.

Workers have stayed at home and away from the country's two ports, in Abidjan and San Pedro.

"There is no point buying cocoa if we can't export it... We are hoping to start to work between now and the end of the week if things get back to normal," said one Abidjan-based exporter.

According to Reuters, fighting in the major cocoa-producing town of Gagnoa between residents and farmers has triggered a dawn-to-dusk curfew.

South African president Thabo Mbeki is in Abidjan to try to mediate between the government of President Laurent Gbagbo and rebels who hold most of the north of the country.

Angry crowds

Monday's surge on the cocoa markets in both London and New York was triggered by the mob violence which broke out over the weekend.

Protesters in Abidjan brandish signs attacking French president Jacques Chirac
Protesters filled Abidjan's streets after the French attack
French aircraft had bombed the Ivory Coast's air force following the death of nine peacekeepers, part of the force policing the ceasefire between government and the rebels.

Since a failed coup in 2002, the country has effectively been partitioned, with the rebels in the north and the government of President Laurent Gbagbo in the south, where most of the country's cocoa is grown.

Angry crowds retaliated, forcing foreigners to take refuge in French and UN military bases.

France, the former colonial power, retains a significant presence in Ivory Coast.

Thousands of the expatriates in the capital, Abidjan, are French, and France remains Ivory Coast's main trade partner.

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