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Italy protesters stage anti-austerity 'No Monti Day'

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Rome to protest against the prime minister and austerity measures.

TENS OF THOUSANDS demonstrators, most of them young, marched in Rome during a “No Monti Day” Saturday called by unions, left-wing parties and other groups to protest at government austerity measures in recession-hit Italy.

Watched by a heavy police presence, some demonstrators wore giant masks of Prime Minister Mario Monti or the devil, while others carried red banners and puppets of former premier Silvio Berlusconi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama.

Shops were shuttered on the streets demonstrators took during the 1.5-kilometre march for fear of violence, but only minor incidents were reported, with some demonstrators throwing eggs, bottles and firecrackers at bank branches.

Police banned all traffic in the area taken by the marchers and the capital’s mayor asked demonstrators to “respect the city”.

Protesters march during a demonstration against Italian Premier Mario Monti’s austerity measures, in Rome, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. On Saturday, Italians in several cities took to the streets for a “No Monti” day of protests. Monti had initially said he wouldn’t run in spring elections, but recently hinted that he could stay on for a second term under the right circumstances. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Banners carried slogans such as “Cuts, only cuts” and “Monti Out” to denounce a series of structural reforms the government has imposed in an effort to battle off the eurozone debt crisis.

Critics have accused Monti of failing to boost growth and of stifling the population with high taxes. Italy’s unemployment rate is at 10.7 percent, but much higher among younger voters.

- © AFP, 2012

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