Romania's justice minister resigns over corruption decree

Romania's justice minister resigns over corruption decree Romania's justice minister Florin Iordache cornered by opposition party USR

BUCHAREST (Romania), February 9 (SeeNews) - Romania's justice minister Florin Iordache stepped down on Thursday following the government's attempt to protect politicians from criminal prosecution for corruption that has sparked the biggest nationwide protests since the fall of communism.

"Since I came to the justice ministry, I planned and performed all legal steps to remedy a series of quite sensitive problems. As you have seen, all the initiatives undertaken are legal and constitutional. The proposed projects were subject to public debate organized by the ministry and are now debated in parliament. However, for the public opinion this was not enough, which is why I have decided to resign from the post of minister of justice," Iordache explained in a televised statement.

On Sunday night, an estimated record 500,000 people gathered in Bucharest and other Romanian cities seeking the government's resignation even though the cabinet earlier repealed its decree that eases or scraps penalties for corruption offences committed by politicians. The decree would have made abuse of office punishable by jail only if that offence resulted in a loss of more than 200,000 lei ($47,500/44,000 euro).

Also on Sunday, prime minister Sorin Grindeanu, said that he is not going to resign under street pressure and added that he would analyze Iordache's handling of the crisis and would decide his future in the government.

Protests were ongoing on Wednesday for a ninth straight day in Piata Victoriei square in Bucharest, in front of the government headquarters building.

A vote on a censure motion against Grindeanu's government failed on Wednesday as opposition lacked enough votes and the governing coalition did not vote.

On Tuesday, Romania's president Klaus Iohannis said that he does not want the government to resign, even though he found it responsible for the crisis.

Last week, technocrat minister responsible for business environment, Florin Jianu, resigned because of the protests.

(1 euro = 4.4956 lei)

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