An estimated half a million Romanians have continued to protest against the government, with many calling on it to quit even after it scrapped the corruption legislation that sparked a week of public outrage.
The prime minister, Sorin Grindeanu, has stood firm, saying his government, which has been in office for barely a month, “has a responsibility to the people who voted for us” and would not resign. More than 450 people were injured during a huge anti-corruption protest in Bucharest, Romanian police said on Saturday, a day after the rally at which around 30 people were arrested.
Police had used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the protesters as tens of thousands rallied to call on the leftwing government to resign. Many demonstrators needed treatment after inhaling pepper spray and tear gas, while others suffered blows, hospital sources said. Around 30 police were also injured, 11 of whom were taken to hospital. The last six nights of large, noisy protests in cities and towns around the country have been the biggest outpouring of public anger since the toppling of the communist dictator Nicolae Ceauescu in 1989.
The object of public anger was an emergency decree passed on Tuesday night that critics at home and abroad feared marked an alarming retreat in the battle against corruption, long the scourge of the EU’s second-poorest country.
On Sunday, Grindeanu’s cabinet repealed the decree, but this failed to assuage protesters, many of them taking to the streets that night chanting “Resign! Resign!” as they waved flags, brandished signs and blew whistles and plastic horns in the national colours.
“They are corrupt. We want justice … the government will still try something [with the decree],” said Emma, 24, one of between 200,000 and 300,000 people estimated to have gathered at Victory Square in central Bucharest.—Agencies