Romania's president slams government over protests

Centrist President Klaus Iohannis criticised the Social Democrat-led government for a decree, later scrapped, that decriminalised some corruption, triggering the largest demonstrations in Romania since the fall of communism in 1989.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Thousands of people gather in Romania’s capital of Bucharest to protest against the country’s ruling Social Democrats, calling for the resignation of the government.

Romania's president on Tuesday tore into the leftist-led government over a corruption decree that sparked a week of huge street protests.

Speaking to parliament, centrist President Klaus Iohannis criticised the Social Democrat-led government for the late-night adoption of a cabinet decree on February 1, that critics said would have turned the clock back on the fight against corruption in the former communist state, now an EU and NATO member.

But in a potential reprieve for Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, Iohannis said the Social Democrats had won the right to govern in the December election and should continue to do so.

"Romania needs a strong government, not one that shyly executes party orders," said Iohannis, a former leader of the centre-right opposition. "You should legislate for Romania, not for a group of politicians with problems."

Though his role is largely ceremonial, the president's powers include nominating the prime minister after elections and returning legislation to parliament for reconsideration.

The government formally scrapped the decree on Monday and called for calm. But around 25,000 people gathered in front of government offices in central Bucharest in the evening to demand Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu's resignation and snap elections.

Monday was the seventh day of anti-government protests over the decree, although the numbers were much smaller than in previous days.

The emergency ordinance would have decriminalised abuse-of-power offences which involve less than $48,000. It led to the country’s largest demonstrations since the fall of communism in 1989.

TRT World’s Nafisa Latic has this report. 

TRTWorld and agencies