One of the biggest displays of military might in Lisbon since last April's coup stifled two banned demonstrations in the Portuguese capital Friday night (31 January) by members of extreme left-wing political parties.
GTV PAN OVER Large crowds with troops and armoured cars in Rossio Square (2 shots)
SV Troops and armoured trucks
GV Crowd with armed soldier in foreground
SV Troops lining street (2 shots)
SV Troops moving crowds from square
GV Armoured vehicle with soldier speaking over loud-hailer
SV Demonstrators chanting slogans (4 shots)
GV Armoured vehicle outside Parliament building
SV Crowds chanting outside Parliament building with troops guarding entrance (3 shots)
Initials CL/2100 CL/2111
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Background: One of the biggest displays of military might in Lisbon since last April's coup stifled two banned demonstrations in the Portuguese capital Friday night (31 January) by members of extreme left-wing political parties.
Hundreds of troops supported by dozens of armoured vehicles sealed off two large areas in central Lisbon where the two groups had gathered in defiance of a Government ban on public demonstrations. By controlling the crowds without incident, the ruling Armed Forces Movement achieved its prime aim of preventing a repetition of last weekend's street violence in Oporto, where left-wing rioters wrecked the founding congress of the middle-of-the-road Centre Democrat Party (CDS).
The troops eased several hundred members of the Maoist Movement for the Reorganisation of the Proletariat Party (MRPP) out of Rossio Square and again blocked the party members' way when more than 1,000 gathered in front of the Sao Bento Government Palace.
About 100 other demonstrators -- members of the Movement of the Socialist Left (MES) -- turned out for another rally at the Entre Campos Square, but they also were cordoned off by troops armed with machine-guns.
The demonstrators carried posters and shouted slogans opposing current manoeuvres off Portugal by naval forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which they branded as "insolent" and "provocative" and part of a Fascist plot to overthrow the Provisional Government.
On Thursday (30 January), Major Vitor Alves, a Minister Without Portfolio, said the charges were groundless and that the anti-submarine exercises had been planned two years ago -- adding that he saw no reason to call them off.
But on Friday night (31 January), Foreign Minister Mario Soares, Secretary-General of the Socialist Party in the interim Government coalition, told his party's newspaper, Republica, that the NATO manoeuvres -- code-named "Locked Gate" and involving 35 ships of six NATO countries -- were "inopportune in the present circumstances".