Romanian minister quits after mass protests

Posted February 11, 2017

Romania's justice minister has resigned after huge nationwide protests over government efforts to weaken anti-corruption laws through a decree.

Iordache wrote the government decree, which decriminalized abuse of power offenses involving sums below $47,500, as well as clemency and reduced prison terms for government officials convicted of corruption offenses.

"I followed all the legal steps to fix a series of problems", Iordache told reporters in televised remarks. "However, for the public opinion this was not enough, so I have chose to submit my resignation", he added.

Thousands of people took to the streets in Romania last week to express their discontent over amendments to the country's Criminal Code issued by the government. It comes after the constitutional court failed to rule on the legality of the decree, which was withdrawn following the protests.

Iordache was one the co-architects of the controversial January emergency decree, which critics say would have protected corrupt politicians from prosecution.

Romanian minister quits after mass protests

On Thursday, a much smaller but fiery crowd of 2,500 still turned out to protest in central Bucharest, waving Romanian and European Union flags and holding placards reading "We are fighting for principles and values". Parliament must still endorse the government's decision to rescind the decree.

Opponents regard it as a way of pardoning some members of the ruling Social Democrat Party in advance of trials. The country's ombudsman had earlier asked the court to intervene.

Mass demonstrations are planned for later on Friday and over the weekend.

About 5,000 people demanded the resignation of PM Sorin Grindeanu.

Mass protests have continued in Romania after the controversy over the government's bid to cut penalties for corruption claimed its first ministerial scalp.

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