Published: Wed, February 08, 2017
World | By Tasha Manning

Romanians protest after government revokes corruption decree

Another demonstration is expected in Bucharest Monday evening amid calls for the resignation of the ruling coalition government led by Grindeanu.

The government claimed the changes were needed to ease prison overcrowding and align Romania's legislation with its constitution, but the decree enraged many Romanians who are sick of facing corrupt practices every day.

The crowds were much thinner compared to the previous six days when hundreds of thousands flocked to the streets of the capital Bucharest and many others elsewhere in Romania, as the government even retracted the bill that would have tabled the same amendments to Parliament, proposing a decriminalization of some abuse-of-office cases. Experts say Parliament can indeed pass such a law - and it could take effect if the president signs it - but the political task of winning support is trickier.

One possible beneficiary would be Social Democratic Party leader Social Democratic Party leader Liviu Dragnea, whose path to becoming prime minister has been effectively blocked by corruption charges.

"This government has offered us a ideal demonstration of what it can do during its first 30 days in office".

Her husband added: "It feels like we can't go home anymore because you're afraid they're going to do something else overnight and we don't want such surprises".

Romania, a country of 20 million people which hosts a USA ballistic missile defence station and is one of Washington's staunchest allies with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, remains among the poorest, most corrupt members of the European Union.

"You have been saying in public that I would like to overthrow the legitimate government", he told lawmakers. "Besides the protesters in the square, there are other Romanians also shouting that their vote must be protected", he said, in reference to the party's big win in a December election. "The Social Democrats, as they created the problem".

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"They (Romania's leaders) are deeply scared by these huge protests, unprecedented in 27 years", independent political commentator Cristian Patrasconiu said of the latest rallies.

"It's not just corruption, it's bad public services".

"This amounts to more than a simple step back".

Earlier, the Social Democrats on February 5 scrapped a measure that would have protected many politicians from prosecution for corruption.

The European Commission and the United States both condemned the government's move as backtracking on anti-graft reforms and the widely-acclaimed work of anti-corruption prosecutors.

The government, which holds a big majority, faces a no-confidence motion in parliament on Wednesday, when several PSD sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, have told Reuters they also expect Iordache to submit his resignation.

He told CNN Monday: "The ordinance has been withdrawn but has now been introduced nearly unchanged into the parliamentary process".

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