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Thousands rally in Berlin anti-nuclear protest

THOUSANDS rallied in Berlin yesterday to demand an immediate end to Germany's use of nuclear energy, with three weeks to go before parliamentary elections.

The government plans to shut down Germany's 17 nuclear plants by 2021, but protesters say they should close sooner and want to ensure the future government does not overturn that decision.

"We want to make sure that even after the election it remains clear that we can't continue to rely on nuclear energy, no matter which parties are in government," said Thomas Auer, of the Robin Wood environmental group that helped organize the protest.

"A vote for Merkel is a vote for Nuclear" read a banner, in reference to fears that if returned to office after September 27 parliamentary elections, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government could extend the nation's use of nuclear power. About 20 percent of Germany's energy comes from its nuclear plants.

Organizers say the tens of thousands of anti-atomic demonstrators include several hundred who drove tractors to Berlin from near one of the nation's most notorious nuclear waste dumps in Gorleben.

Police declined to give a number, saying only the demonstrations posed mostly a traffic problem - about 400 tractors that jammed the streets of Germany's capital for several hours yesterday, followed by waves of colorful protesters waving flags and blowing whistles while they marched yesterday to the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of downtown Berlin.


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