Romania: 13th day of govt protests draw tens of thousands

By ALISON MUTLER - Associated Press ,

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A masked protester holds a banner during a demonstration in Bucharest, Romania.

A masked protester holds a banner during a demonstration in Bucharest, Romania. (Photo: AP)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Protesters numbering in the tens of thousands gathered again Sunday outside the Romanian government's offices to demand the resignation of the East European country's leadership.

The enormous crowds assembled in Victory Square marked the 13th consecutive day of anti-government demonstrations in Bucharest, the capital. They later formed a huge human Romanian flag.

The protests demanding a new government and a new style of governance started last month when the center-left government passed an emergency ordinance that would have watered down laws that punish official corruption.

"I've been coming here to show them they can't just govern the way they like. They can't trick us or buy us off with a few lei," demonstrator Bogdan Bogatoniu said, referring to the Romanian currency.

Thousands also protested in the cities of Cluj, Sibiu, Iasi, and Timisoara.

"Romanians have woken up, they can't be fooled anymore," said Bogatoniu, a 33-year old IT expert who came to the square with his wife and 2-month-old son.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 government supporters gathered outside the presidential palace. For the eight consecutive day, they called for the resignation of President Klaus Iohannis, who condemned the emergency decree and has vocally supported the anti-government protests.

Premier Sorin Grindeanu withdrew the disputed ordinance a week ago following days of demonstrations, the biggest street protests since communism ended in 1989. The justice minister resigned last week over widespread public anger.

The withdrawn decree was one of a series of government initiatives that would have also eased penalties for the ruling Social Democrats' leader, Liviu Dragnea. A vote-rigging conviction has blocked Dragnea from becoming prime minister.

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