Protesters continue demonstrations even after Romanian PM resignation over club blaze
BUCHAREST - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS photoRomanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s resignation on Nov. 4, after a deadly nightclub blaze, has failed to stop tens of thousands from taking to the streets for a second night.
The 43-year-old prime minister had announced the dissolution of the government on television on Nov. 5, saying top officials had to take responsibility for the tragedy at the Colectiv disco in Bucharest that took place on Oct. 31.
The fire left 32 people dead and nearly 200 injured, many of whom remain in critical condition.
Ponta, Romania’s premier since 2012, had been under pressure to quit weeks before the blaze, after going on trial in September on charges of fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.
“I am stepping down as prime minister,” he said. “I hope the government’s resignation will satisfy the people who came out in the streets.
“I have to acknowledge the legitimate anger of the people.”
But the move was not enough to stop 30,000 people taking to the streets later on Nov. 4, for a second day of protests to demand a “profound change” in the government.
More than 20,000 gathered in the capital, while some 10,000 turned out across a dozen other major cities.
“People want a change in the system, half measures are not enough,” said Marius Matache, a musician taking part in the march.
“Our friends in the Colectiv disco were killed by a vile system. It was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.”
After his resignation announcement, Ponta and his Social Democrat party met their coalition partners and nominated Defense Minister Mircea Dusa as interim premier.
“This tragedy touched the nation’s most sensitive nerve,” President Klaus Iohannis said. “Romanians’ indignation has turned into a real revolt.”
The conservative Iohannis must now start talks with political parties on the formation of a new government, though his own National Liberal Party -- in opposition in parliament -- called for early elections.