London demo calls for Afghanistan pull-out
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of London Saturday calling for British troops to be withdrawn immediately from Afghanistan and the money diverted to domestic public spending instead.
Organisers Stop the War Coalition, a left-wing movement, said 10,000 people attended the rally. Police estimates are usually significantly lower but they did not give a figure for Saturday's crowd. No early arrests were made.
The rally came as NATO leaders meeting in Lisbon agreed to start pulling their forces off the Afghan battlefield next year but vowed not to leave the beleaguered Kabul regime prey to a still unbeaten Taliban insurgency.
The 48 countries signed a deal with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to begin handing his government control of fighting in early 2011 and cede command to it by the end of 2014.
In London, demonstrators chanted: "When they say warfare, we say welfare."
Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative-Liberal coalition government has introduced a round of spending cuts in a bid to rein in Britains' record deficit.
John Hilary, the executive director of anti-poverty charity War on Want said: "Do not dare to tell us that there is no money for public services and public sector workers.
"We want the 11 billion pounds (17.6 billion dollars, 12.8 billion euros) that is being spent on the war in Afghanistan to go on things we need in this country.
"Bring home the troops and bring justice to the people of Afghanistan."
© 2010 AFP