More than 20,000 protesters marched through the city Saturday demanding the resignation of President Ion Iliescu.

The rally started with about 5,000 people in Revolution Square showing solidarity with a general strike in the Romanian city of Timisoara. The demonstration quickly gathered momentum and participants in a march to the national television station.Protesters chanted slogans such as "general strike, general strike" and carried banners saying, "Long live the king," referring to former King Michael, who was expelled from Romania on Christmas Day. The anti-government demonstrators were led by an advance party brandishing huge flags swirling them in time to the chants, "Down with Iliescu" and "Bucharest supports Timisoara."

Anti-government sentiment has escalated in Romania since the expulsion of Michael.

During the protest Saturday, two police jeeps had to accelerate to escape protesters who chased them down the main thoroughfare, Magheru Boulevard, in the city's center.

The protest comes after five days of demonstrations in Timisoara and is the biggest in Romania this year following two months of relative quiet. Organized by the opposition group of intellectuals in the Civic Alliance, the march grew to encompass passers-by and was encouraged by shouts of support from apartment block balconies along the route.

"I'm not a representative of any party," said Radu Chesaru, a 22-year-old student who was shouting instructions to protesters through a megaphone. "We're all just individuals. The megaphone is my own."

On Friday night 300 people were dispersed and two Romanian photographers were beaten by riot police during a gathering at University Square.