Calls for resignations in Romania

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters
Calls for resignations in Romania

I do not want to divide Romania

Sorin Grindeanu Prime Minister

Protesters have gathered for a sixth night of protests in Bucharest.

However, this time, the atmosphere was peaceful.

Romania has been in the grip of its most widespread protests since the fall of dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu in 1989.

What were the protests about?

A decree which would decriminalise several graft offences. The government said was a bid to relieve pressure on the prison system.

It would have come into force at the end of next week.

Why was there so much opposition?

The decree was seen by its critics as the biggest retreat on reforms since Romania joined the EU in 2007.

It would have exempted abuse-of-power offences involving sums below 200,000 lei (48,000 euros) from prosecution.

Opponents say dozens of officials would have been shielded from justice.

For example, the decree could have put an end to the ongoing trial of the head of the governing Social Democrats (PSD).

Livia Dragnea is accused of using his political influence to secure stable state salaries for two people working at party headquarters between 2006 and 2013.

He denies any wrongdoing.

What happened?

The country’s prime minister said on Saturday he would scrap the decree that would have shielded dozens of politicians from prosecution for corruption.

Sorin Grindeanu said the decree would be repealed on Sunday.

“I do not want to divide Romania. Romania cannot be split into two. Right now, Romania seems broken in two,” Grindeanu said, referring to the public disgust at the decree which has brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets every day since it was passed.

Calls for resignations

Waving the Romanian flag, protesters gathered outside Grindeanu’s office and chanted “Resign! Resign!”

“They must go,” said one, who gave his name as Gabriel.“We don’t want to see this repeated. We won’t give up.”

What the international stakeholders are saying

Nine Western powers, including Germany and the US, said they were deeply concerned about the decree.

The concern is it could undermine Romania’s partnerships in the EU and NATO.