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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Troubled Hungarian PM fights on
Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany. File photo
Mr Gyurcsany said he had lied about the state of the economy
Hungary's ruling Socialists have closed ranks behind embattled prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, saying he will not quit despite continuing protests.

The party accused "arsonists and looters" of triggering the violent protests in Budapest in the past week.

At least 20,000 people attended a rally in the capital on Saturday - one of the biggest in a wave of demonstrations.

Mr Gyurcsany has been under pressure to quit since admitting that he lied to voters to get re-elected in April.

The leader of the conservative opposition Fidesz party, Viktor Orban, urged voters to treat local elections next Sunday as a vote of no-confidence in the government.

'Staying on'

But Ildiko Lendvai, leader of the Socialists' parliamentary faction, insisted that replacing Mr Gyurcsany was not on the agenda.

Hungary protest map

He accused "arsonists and looters" of being behind such demands.

Mr Gyurcsany has pledged to stay on to carry out his programme of austerity measures.

He has also accused some opposition members of teaming up with the far right during the rallies that have left at least 200 people injured over the past week.

The violence has been partly blamed by police on known football hooligans, correspondents say.

Mr Orban has said the government "does not have the basic trust necessary to enjoy the support of the electorate", adding that it was unable to implement reforms.

If the Socialists are defeated in Sunday's polls, the Fidesz leader said, they should step down and be replaced, for a limited period, by a government of experts.

The protests began after the leak of a tape in which Mr Gyurcsany admitted lying to the voters to get his Socialist party re-elected in the April polls.


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