Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta resigns the day after mass protests over nightclub fire

20,000 people took to the streets of Bucharest on Tuesday calling for Mr Ponta's resignation

Alexandra Sims
Wednesday 04 November 2015 10:02 GMT
Thousands in Bucharest blame corruption for Friday’s nightclub blaze

The Romanian Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, and his government are to resign after mass protests over a nightclub fire that killed more than 30 people.

The leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party, Liviu Dragnea, said Mr Ponta would quit on Wednesday after discussions within the ruling coalition.

In a statement Mr Ponta said: "I'm handing in my mandate, I'm resigning, and implicitly my government too.

"I hope the government's resignation will satisfy the people who came out in the streets."

Romania’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta

The head of the ruling leftist Social Democrat Party Liviu Dragnea told reporters in parliament: "Victor Ponta is giving up his mandate. Someone needs to assume responsibility for what has happened. This a serious matter and we promise a quick resolution of the situation.

"You probably noticed thousands of people last evening and what they demanded."

20,000 people took to the streets of Bucharest on Tuesday evening in a protest calling for the resignation of Mr Ponta, Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea and a district mayor where the Colectiv nightclub was located.

Protestors were heard shouting "Shame on you!" and "Assassins!" and waved Romanian flags.

Romania's President Klaus Iohannis wrote on his Facebook page yesterday: "I understand what is being asked and what is expected, and they are right, someone has to take political responsibility."

"The next step is for politicians, who cannot ignore this sentiment of revolt," he added.

Witnesses said the fire broke out during a heavy-metal concert when a spark ignited foam decor in the basement club. Only a single-door exit was available for people to evacuate the club.

Thirty-two people dies and 130 are still hospitalized, dozens of them in serious or critical condition.

Anger has been brewing for some time in Romania against the government, which many perceive as being corrupt. Friday's fire added to the discontent.

Additional reporting by various agencies

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