Dutch police break up anti-lockdown demo in The Hague ahead of elections

Photo: AP

Dutch riot police sealed off the area near The Hague’s central station on Sunday, on the eve of the 3-day elections in the country, after hundreds of demonstrators refused to disperse, news wires reported.

The crowd had gathered to protest about the government’s coronavirus strategy but far more than the agreed 200 turned up.

There were several arrests when police tried to break up the gathering using water canon. At one point a police officer dog handler discharged a warning shot, broadcaster NOS said. Train services to The Hague were also halted for a time in an effort to prevent more people joining the demonstration. The area had been cleared by late Sunday afternoon. A similar demonstration in Amsterdam attracted around 150 people.

The Netherlands has been under a tough lockdown since late January with gatherings of more than two people banned, restaurants and bars shut and with the first night-time curfew since World War II.

Voting in the general election will start on Monday, with polls open for three days to help ensure social distancing at polling stations. PM Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD Party appears set to get a new four-year mandate.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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