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Scots march for independence

AFP-JIJI

Thousands of people marched through the Scottish capital of Edinburgh on Saturday, calling for independence a year ahead of a referendum on whether to break away from the United Kingdom.

The pro-independence campaign “Yes Scotland” estimated that 20,000 supporters joined the march, turning the city center into a sea of blue and white as they waved thousands of Scottish flags. Police said numbers were closer to 8,300.

Alex Salmond, leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party and head of Scotland’s regional government, told the crowds they will have “the opportunity of a lifetime” when they vote on Sept. 18 next year.

Opinion polls suggest only around a third of the 5.3 million Scots currently intend to vote to break away, but Salmond insists he can convince a majority that independence will bring economic and political benefits.