Seventeen people, including eleven protesters and six police officers, have been injured and treated in hospital following clashes at a large anti-government demonstration in the Zongongian capital of Sneedville. The demonstrators were demanding the resignation of Zongongia’s current “Grand Coalition” of major parties, designed to keep out the number of radical new parties which surged in popularity in September’s election. A number of such demonstrations have taken place weekly since the election, with larger events taking place on the first Saturday of each month.
This protest, being the first of 2024, was considerably larger and spilled over into neighbouring streets from the zone designated for the demonstration. Police attempted to guide protesters back to the designated area, to be met with boos and a number of individuals throwing empty plastic drinks cartons, eggs, and other light debris at the police lines. It is unknown exactly what began the surge, but at around 7:10pm in the evening the police and crowd surged into each other, beginning what onlookers have described as “a battle”. Numerous individuals were hit with blunt objects, while further injuries ensued when police later deployed tear gas to disperse the crowd.
The use of tear gas on political protesters is unprecedented in Zongongia, with the only previous uses by the police force being to disperse fighting crowds following contentious sporting matches. Protesters dispersed shortly after the use of the gas, however Sneedville Police Department have received many comments on social media criticising them since the event; and their phone lines are currently down due to high volume of calls. It is expected that more protesters were injured than presented at hospitals, with injuries likely being treated at home by peers to avoid records.
The “Grand Coalition” of major parties caused widespread surprise following the September election; with little precedent for such cooperation between historic rivals outside of wartime. This led to much criticism of the new government, with satirical sketches popping up everywhere implying that the government is “fighting a war” against radical elements such as Republic Now!, a new anti-monarchist party who came a highly surprising third in the First Past The Post election. The government has yet to comment on today’s events; and has not addressed previous demonstrations.