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100,000 Italian Workers Hold Protest

<i> From Associated Press</i>

About 100,000 workers carrying red flags and banners marched through the center of Rome on Saturday to protest rising unemployment and demand the resignation of Prime Minister Giuliano Amato.

“This demonstration is for work and against Amato,” said Massimo D’Alema, from the Democratic Party of the Left, the former Communist Party.

The government has not released recent unemployment figures, but the jobless rate stood at 11.3% at the end of last year.

Police said about 100,000 workers from throughout Italy participated in the march called by Italy’s three largest labor unions. The Italian news agency ANSA said the workers arrived on more than 500 buses and aboard numerous special trains.

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Police Chief Fernando Masone said the demonstration was peaceful.

The workers denounced corruption scandals involving hundreds of millions of dollars in kickbacks to political parties in exchange for public works contracts.

Every major party in Italy has been tainted by the scandals, which have led to the resignation of three Cabinet officers. Some of Italy’s leading businessmen also have been implicated.

“We Have Lost Patience,” read one banner carried by the demonstrators.

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“Elections Immediately,” read another.

Amato, a Socialist, shuffled his Cabinet Feb. 21 after the resignation of two ministers because of scandals. But his four-party coalition government won a vote of confidence Thursday in the Chamber of Deputies.

The marchers, however, shouted for the government’s resignation.

“The Amato government must go: general strike,” they shouted.

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