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Hungary: PM vows to continue despite protests

The anti-government demonstrations planned for the weekend will not be a deterrent from continuing strict economic reforms, said Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány in an interview with British news agency Reuters on Friday.

He has the full support of the senior governing party MSzP and his position is stable, Gyurcsány said. The education and healthcare reforms will be continued until the end of the government’s mandate. The tax system will be revised, the pension reform launched by until 2010. The coalition is strong and likely to reach an agreement on healthcare finances soon. If people do not understand the aims of the reforms and withdraw their support, the government, instead of giving up, should provide a more clear explanation on the necessity of the changes.

Some five thousand demonstrators gathered on Castle Hill in Budapest on Saturday afternoon for the first of a series of nationwide demonstrations against Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, marking the anniversary of a speech he made, when he admitted to lying to win elections, MTI News Agency reported.

The protestors gathered in front of the Office of the President and played segments of the infamous speech over a loudspeaker system. A group of about 100 activists arrived at about 4:00 p.m. to join the mostly elderly crowd as the meeting got underway. The activists had participated in a demonstration on the far side of the city and when they found the most direct route -- Chain Bridge -- closed for a weekend festival, some forced their way through the crowd of pedestrians with their vehicles anyway. Others chose alternative bridges.
Demonstrators, waving the red-and-white striped flags associated by many with the far right, made a point of halting dark-skinned and Asian tourists and preventing them from entering the square where the protest was underway. (Gazdasági Rádió,