Romanians revive spirit of 1989

Romanians revive spirit of 1989

Romanians have protesting for a week. Source: YouTube

More than 200,000 demonstrators have protested in Bucharest following the Romanian government’s U-turn over a corruption decree after a week of rallies.

The government announced it would withdraw a controversial executive order that would have decriminalised various grant offences and protected politicians from prosecution.

The government coalition, led by Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, had originally approved the law on Tuesday, with no input from parliamentarians.

After repealing the decree, Grindeanu asked the justice minister to prepare a draft law to be sent to parliament for debate and approval.

The centre-left Social Democratic Party has a parliamentary majority with a coalition partner and President Klaus Iohannis must sign off on the legislation.

But protesters expressed concerns about the government’s plans to redraft the law and send it for parliamentary debate, where it could be forced into law.

Protesters questioned Grindeanu’s competence and called for his government to “go”.

“Today we are going to break new records,” Florian, 40, told AFP in Bucharest. He said he did not trust the administration to retract the legislation as promised.

Many protesters remain unsatisfied and some are calling the left-wing government to resign.

Recent days have seen Romania’s largest protests since communism fell in 1989.

The decision to repeal the degree was confirmed at an emergency government meeting in the capital.

Many in the crowd do not believe the government’s promises. They are afraid that new legislation, promised by the prime minister when he abolished the decree, might contain some of the same elements in a different form.

The decree would have decriminalised abuse of power offences with sums involving less than €44,000.

Critics saw it as an attempt by the government to let off many of its own political leaders and civil servants caught in an anti-corruption drive.

“We don’t believe that,” the electrician said.

A giant laser beamed “Do not give up” and “Resignation” on to the prime minister’s office.

“This government is organised from the high level to the low like a mafia, and we don’t want something like this,” protester Profira Popo told Associated Press.

On Saturday, an estimated 330,000 protesters gathered in the biggest rally since dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was deposed in 1989.

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