Romania protests rage into seventh day despite government climbdown over 'legal corruption' law

PM insists government will not collapse amid fiercest demonstrations since end of communist rule in 1989, after attempts were made to ease up on corruption rules

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Romania's prime minister said the ruling coalition will not resign despite mass demonstrations against a measure which would ease up on corruption.

There are signs, however, that the centre-left government may not push ahead immediately with its attempt to decriminalise official misconduct, which ignited the protests.

Prime minister Sorin Grindeanu acknowledged that "the act had led to division", and suggested he may sack the justice minister later this week.

People attend a protest in front of government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania (EPA)

Unrest is continuing, with hundreds of government supporters massing outside the presidential palace in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, blaming president Klaus Iohannis for the crisis.

The president has strongly opposed the measure.

Elsewhere, protesters began gathering outside the government offices for the seventh consecutive evening in Victory Square, the site of the biggest protests Romania has had since communism was overthrown in 1989.

Social Democratic chairman Liviu Dragnea emerged from a meeting with governing partners saying that "we unreservedly expressed our support for the government ... and the prime minister".

On Sunday, the government backed down following six days of street protests over an emergency ordinance that would decriminalise abuse in office by officials if the amount involved was less than about 48,500 dollars (£38,865).

It plans to introduce another version of the law in parliament, where it has a majority.


Victoriei Plaza full of protesters flashing the lanterns on their cell-phones, all at the time, during a massive protest in front of government headquarters, background, in Bucharest, Romania (EPA)

However, in a sign of second thoughts, justice minister Florin Iordache later said in a statement he was "not preoccupied" with drawing up a draft law.

"Currently, the justice minister is focusing on the decisions published by the Constitutional Court ... which will be analysed in the near future," the statement said.

The Constitutional Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the decriminalising proposal later this week.

Mr Dragnea, the major power broker in the government, is banned from being prime minister because of his conviction in April 2016 for vote rigging.

Associated Press