Hungarian police clear way for new anti-government protests outside parliament

Police dismantled a metal fence in downtown Budapest on Monday, clearing the way for a new round of anti-government protests outside parliament.

The fence had been put up around Kossuth Square in October, after weeks of rallies and some violent riots calling for Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany to resign after the broadcast of a leaked recording in which he admitted the government lied about the economy to win re-election in April.

The government had said the barrier was a police security measure. But opposition groups objected that it was unconstitutional, along with a ban on protests at the square.

The Hungarian National Committee 2006, one of the groups that held last year's round-the-clock protests, said that on Tuesday it would resume holding nightly rallies at the square.

The main center-right opposition group Fidesz, which has called Gyurcsany's government illegitimate, said it also planned to call for a national referendum on some of the government's unpopular policies, such as raising fees for doctor visits and university tuition.

The Socialist-Free Democrat governing coalition has been struggling to bring Hungary's budget deficit under control. Last year, the deficit was close to 10 percent of gross domestic product - the highest within the European Union.

The government had campaigned for elections saying the economy needed only minor adjustments, and approved a tax cut. Since winning re-election in April, however, it has raised taxes, cut subsidies and dismissed thousands of employees.

Gyurcsany has acknowledged making the remarks about the government lying about the economy - remarks that were recorded during a Socialist Party meeting and then leaked to the media, triggering last year's protests. He explained, however, that he was trying to convince party members of an urgent need for economic reform.

Gyurcsany submitted himself to a parliamentary vote of confidence in October, and survived. President Laszlo Solyom said Gyurcsany's speech and his subsequent failure to show remorse had caused a moral crisis in Hungary.

Experts say the country would likely be ready to adopt the euro currency in 2015, rather than 2010 as previously planned, due to the large deficit and high inflation, expected to come near to 9 percent this year.

On Thursday, Hungary held peaceful commemorations of its 1848 revolution against the Habsburgs.

By evening, however, a few thousand extremists had set up road blocks and lit bonfires on a main Budapest boulevard to demand the release of Gyorgy Budahazy, arrested Thursday on suspicion of plotting to violently undermine constitutional order with last year's riots, reports AP.

Police used tear gas and a water cannon to disperse the protesters.

Budahazy, who for months was in hiding, is now under house arrest. He is also suspected of defacing a World War II Soviet war memorial.

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