Romania's president seeks to annul graft law amid protests

Feb 05, 2017, 01:14
Romania's president seeks to annul graft law amid protests

The law will decriminalise several crimes and will mean that only offences involving more than $48,000 will punishable by jail.

In a separate statement, the US, Germany, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, and France said Romania's government had undermined "progress on rule of law and the fight against corruption over the past ten years". "It's my last wish to let this happen", Grindeanu said as quoted by the Romania-Insider newspaper.

The president said he would challenge the government's decree in court, while the business minister has resigned over the measure.

Massive protests in Romania have continued for the second night in a row following the controversial emergency decree. He is banned by law from serving as prime minister because he was handed a two-year prison sentence in April 2016 for vote-rigging.

Two opposition centrist parties, the Liberal Party and the Save Romania Union, also filed a motion of no-confidence yesterday against Grindeanu and the government, but this has little chance of succeeding, says RTE.

The Social Democrat-led government will hold an extraordinary meeting on Sunday to discuss repeal of the decree, which was expected to take effect at midnight on February 10.

It said that the decree was necessary due to overcrowding in prisons, but opponents have pointed out that the ruling PSD leader Liviu Dragnea would directly benefit from the change, having been accused of defrauding the state of €24,000.

Some 330,000 people protested around Romania on Saturday for a fifth consecutive evening, with more than 150,000 people gathering in front of Victoria Palace in Bucharest.

"In the case of abuse of power, public procurement contracts could be split into smaller sums and awarded separately", said Livia Saplacan, spokeswoman for Romania's anti-corruption prosecution unit, the DNA.

Iordache, who had temporarily handed over his duties to a subordinate, told reporters Friday: "I take responsibility for this ordinance".

The reason why the Romanians chose to protest is because of the prime minister and the party that won the referendum from previous year, PSD.

"I think there is some sort of understanding that the government will not withdraw its decree and the Constitutional Court will reject at least parts of it, including the contested abuse-of-office article", said Sergiu Miscoiu, professor of political science at the Babes-Bolyai University. "[The police] are on our side, they agree with the protesters", she said.

The protesters, on the other hand, claimed that the decree would harm Romania's fight against corruption.

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