Tens of thousands protest against Berlusconi

Tens of thousands of people converged on Rome on Saturday to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi just days after the Italian leader survived a confidence vote in parliament.

Rome: Tens of thousands of people converged on Rome on Saturday to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi just days after the Italian leader survived a confidence vote in parliament.

Demonstrators arrived from across Italy on hundreds of buses and two ferries from the island of Sardinia for the "No Berlusconi Day" rally, which was set to start at 1200 GMT in the central square Piazza della Repubblica.

The rally was called by the Purple People, an Internet-based civil society movement with no political party affiliation that mobilised more than 500,000 people against Berlusconi in a previous rally in December last year.

The movement`s main slogan is: "Licenziamolo!" ("Let`s Sack Him!")Berlusconi has been weakened in recent months by the rebellion of one of his closest allies, speaker of parliament Gianfranco Fini, who has set up a splinter group of lawmakers that is putting pressure on the government.

But the prime minister won a confidence vote in Parliament on Wednesday that put off the prospect of early elections while also revealing the divisions within his ruling coalition. Elections are only scheduled for 2013.

Apart from Berlusconi`s resignation, the "No Berlusconi Day" rally will also call for a law against conflicts of interest to put an end to the media tycoon prime minister`s domination of Italy`s news channels.

They also want a new electoral law and early elections.

The objective is "to put pressure on our parliament to confront the real problems in the country and not those linked to the personal interests of the prime minister," Adele Palazzo of the Purple People said ahead of the rally.

Bureau Report

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