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‘Indignant’ protests to go global on Saturday

Protesters will take to the streets worldwide on Saturday, inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” and “Indignants” movements, to vent their anger against alleged corporate greed and government cutbacks.

The organisers, relying heavily on Facebook and Twitter, say demonstrations will be held in 951 cities across 82 countries in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa.

It is the first global show of power by the movement, born May 15 when a rally in Madrid’s central square of Puerta del Sol sparked a protest that spread nationwide, then to other countries.

As governments cut deep into welfare spending to try to trim huge sovereign debts, the protests have grown and this weekend’s demonstrations are being organised in Madrid, New York, London and around the world.

“The ruling powers work for the benefit of just a few, ignoring the will of the vast majority and the human and environmental price we all have to pay. This intolerable situation must end,” organisers said in a statement posted on their website (http://15october.net).

The protests first took hold in Spain, which has a jobless rate of 20.89 percent rising to 46.1 percent for 16-24 year olds, where activists built ramshackle camps in city squares including Puerta del Sol, the heart of Madrid.

They then spread to Europe, finding strong backing in crisis-hit countries like Greece, and then worldwide — last month reaching the centre of global capitalism in Wall Street.

In Madrid, Saturday’s protest will end in Puerta del Sol, still the spiritual centre of the overwhelmingly peaceful protests even though the protest camp was dismantled in June.

Five marches will converge on the city’s emblematic square of Cibeles at 6:00pm (1600 GMT) before proceeding to Puerta del Sol for assemblies lasting through the night.

In Italy, 70 buses are set to bring protesters from throughout the country to a demonstration in Rome which is set to get underway at 1200 GMT and is expected to draw some 200,000 people.

Protests will be get underway in London’s financial district at 1100 GMT and in Athens, which has been rocked by violent demonstrations against government austerity measures, at 1500 GMT.

The Occupy Wall Street protest, which started September 17 with a camp of several hundred people in a small square in the New York financial district, has also struck a powerful chord among US media and politicians.

The protesters declared victory Friday morning when New York authorities at the last minute postponed the evacuation of their camp in a small Manhattan park even though several people were arrested.

Organisers called a rally in Times Square for 5:00pm (2100 GMT), saying they would be at the centre of the international protests.

Anger over unemployment and opposition to the financial elite are common themes in the otherwise disparate movement.

But while Spain’s protesters have specific demands such as attacking unemployment by cutting working hours and imposing compulsory retirement at 65, others are focussed on protesting existing conditions.