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Antigovernment Protests Set To Continue In Romania After 11 Days Of Rallies

RFE/RL February 11, 2017

Mass anticorruption protests are expected to continue in Romania on February 11.

On February 10, tens of thousands took to the streets for the 11th day, demanding the resignation of the leftist-led government for trying to curb the anticorruption fight.

At least 7,000 protesters showed up outside the government building in the capital, Bucharest, on February 10, while another protest in the southwestern city of Timisoara drew 3,500 people, according to media reports.

Thousands rallied in other major cities, such as Cluj, Brasov, and Sibiu.

Much smaller pro-government counterdemonstrations were held in Bucharest and other cities. Several hundred protested outside the presidential palace in Bucharest against President Klaus Iohannis, who has come out strongly in support of the anticorruption protesters.

The president is elected through a direct vote, separately from the parliament.

Iohannis, a former mayor of Sibiu, was head of the center-right National Liberal Party before becoming president in 2014.

Massive nationwide protests kicked off on February 1, after the government of Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu issued an emergency decree the previous night decriminalizing several corruption-related offenses. Critics said the decree was aimed at helping corrupt politicians avoid or get out of jail.

One of the main beneficiaries of the decree would have been Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the ex-communist Social Democrats (PSD).

Dragnea has been convicted of abuse of office and is under trial in a separate graft case. His conviction bars him from becoming prime minister.

The huge rallies, the largest since the fall of communism in December 1989, forced the government to revoke the decree on February 5 and led to the justice minister's resignation.

However, the demonstrations continued, with protesters demanding the resignation of the entire government, despite it surviving a no-confidence vote on February 8. Grindeanu has so far refused to resign.

Meanwhile, a court ruled on February 10 that Senate speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu, accused of making false statements in a property fraud case, can go on trial.

The High Court of Cassation and Justice rejected an appeal by Tariceanu, who had argued there were insufficient grounds for his trial. No date was set for the trial to begin.

Tariceanu's ALDE party is PSD's junior coalition partner.

With additional reporting by digi24hd.ro

Source: http://www.rferl.org/a/romania- antigovernment-protests-continue- corruption-fight/28303650.html

Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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