Thousands rally to demand Romanian government resignation

Romania: Violent protest leaves 440 needing medical treatment

The anti-government protest in Bucharest Friday drew tens of thousands Romanians from overseas and local residents who demanded the government resign over moves to change laws that critics say would make it harder to prosecute corruption.

Many demonstrators needed treatment after inhaling pepper spray and tear gas, while others suffered blows, hospital sources said.

The protestors were organised by Romanian expat groups operating overseas.

Thousands of Romanians joined an anti-government rally in the capital Bucharest, Romania August 11, 2018.

According to the Mediafax news agency, 452 people, including 35 police, were injured when Friday night's protest turned violent.

"My children work in Spain and they would like to come back".

Romania is one of the poorest and most corrupt members of the European Union.

Media estimated the crowd at 30,000-80,000 in Bucharest, with tens of thousands more demonstrating in other cities.

On Twitter, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz condemned "the violent clashes in Bucharest where numerous demonstrators and journalists were injured". "We expect a full explanation".

A woman wears a headband that reads'no Criminals and a mask reading'Resignation
A woman wears a headband that reads ‘no Criminals’ and a mask reading ‘Resignation

"Freedom of expression and, related to that, freedom of the press are basic freedoms of the European Union, which we clearly recognise and which must be unconditionally protected".

Interior Minister Carmen Dan also came out in support of the police who had not "intervened against peaceful protesters but against unsafe hooligans who attacked the state's authority".

Some of the estimated 3 million Romanians living overseas say they left because of corruption, low wages, and lack of opportunities.

But Iohannis also suggested that protesters who sought to break through police lines guarding Bucharest's government buildings and who threw rocks and stones at the police, injuring some officers, also deserved some blame. Hundreds of people — some carrying Romanian flags — started gathering around a central square in Bucharest for a second day of protest, with the crowd expected to grow as the evening progresses.

"I firmly condemn riot police's brutal intervention, strongly disproportionate to the actions of the majority of people", he said.

After Iohannis criticized the police response to Friday's demonstration, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said Iohannis was "inciting the population against the authorities", AFP reported.

In July, President Iohannis approved the dismissal of anti-corruption prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, who had been leading corruption investigations into local and national politicians. In June, a dozen countries, including the United States, warned against amending legislation "that would weaken the rule of law or Romania's ability to fight crime or corruption".

Before Kovesi's sacking, thousands of protesters took to the streets in support of her.

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