Europe

Czechs stage huge anti-government rally in Prague

Protesters with stickers "Stop the government" blow whistles in Prague
Image caption Protesters demanded the immediate resignation of the coalition government

Anti-government demonstrators in the Czech Republic have staged what they describe as the biggest rally since the fall of communism in 1989.

They say 120,000 people packed the capital Prague, protesting against austerity measures and corruption. Police put the numbers at 90,000.

Echoing 1989, people jangled their keys - a signal to the centre-right coalition cabinet to lock up and leave.

The government has recently been rocked by splits and defections.

It is no longer clear if the coalition of Prime Minister Petr Necas commands a majority in parliament, the BBC's Rob Cameron in Prague reports.

'Anorexic'

On Saturday, the protesters - including many pensioners and students - marched through Prague, gathering in Wenceslas Square - the heart of the capital.

Chanting and whistling, they carried banners which read "Stop thieves!" and "Away with the government!"

Rene Koncilova, one of the marchers, said she was struggling to survive on her monthly $350 (£217) disability pension.

"Vaclav Klaus (current president) told us in 1989 that we had to tighten our belts, and the country became anorexic," she told the BBC.

"Fortunately, doctors managed to cure it, but now they're asking us to tighten our belts again. I think we'll all be anorexic before long."

The government says there is no alternative to cuts in public spending and tax rises if the country is to avoid the fate of debt-ridden Greece.

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