Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, on Sunday (16 November) in a rally condemned by the two main government parties as a possible cover for a coup.
GV & SV Demonstrators in trucks (3 shots)
SV ZOOM OUT TO People on balcony TO People passing on foot (2 shots)
SV Trucks and farm vehicles arriving in square
GV Chanting demonstrators in square
SCU Former Labour Minister Costa Martins carried shoulder-high to platform
SV One of the leaders on the rostrum chanting "MPLA"
Crowd responds to chants
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, on Sunday (16 November) in a rally condemned by the two main government parties as a possible cover for a coup.
Pro-communist workers' committees organised the demonstration. It involved the use of hundreds of lorries, tractors and cement mixers which the Socialists and their coalition partners, the Centrist Popular Democrats (PPD) claimed could be used to "paralyse" the capital so that extreme leftists could seize strategic positions. But the demonstration broke up after three hours and there was no immediate evidence of anything unusual having happened.
The Socialists and the PPD had planned a counter demonstration in the northern city of Viseu as an expression of their support for the government but the Socialists pulled out at the last minute. They accused the PPD of trying to turn the rally into a partisan demonstration.
Sunday's rallies left Portugal more divided than ever with Lisbon dominated by the extreme left and the provinces identified with the more moderate and conservative forces which support the government.
The failure of troops or police to protect Prime Minister Jose Pinheiro de Azevedo's residence during last week's 36 hour siege by building workers had earlier heightened speculation that the government might withdraw to govern from the provinces.