Romania justice minister quits over corruption bill protests

11 February, 2017, 00:49 | Author: Essie Rivera
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Romanian Justice Minister Florin Iordache has resigned over the decree to reduce penalties for corruption and the subsequent mass protest and global condemnation.

The government dropped the decree and will now craft a draft law to be approved by Parliament.

Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu's government easily survived a no-confidence motion on Wednesday thanks to its solid majority in parliament. As you have seen, all the initiatives are legal and constitutional. Although the amendments were repealed on Sunday, the protests demanding the resignation of the government have continued.

The government passed a decree last month that paved the way for the release of some detainees belonging to the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) incarcerated over abuse-of-power offenses.

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"But despite that, public opinion did not consider it sufficient, and that's why I have made a decision to submit my resignation", he added. But many Romanians believed the proposal would set back the country's anti-corruption efforts, and hundreds of thousands took to the streets in protest. He has also called for a national referendum on continuing the fight against corruption.

The decree would have effectively shielded dozens of public officials from prosecution for graft and was widely viewed as reversing Romania's drive to tackle endemic corruption.

Representatives of the judiciary, alongside the foreign embassies and representatives of the local and foreign investors warned that the approval of changes in such a manner risk undermining Romania's rule of law and anti-corruption practices.

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said Wednesday that after the recent "incredible progress", Bucharest should not start "running in the other direction".

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