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Romania justice minister resigns over anti-government protests

9 February 2017 22:39

Romania’s newly-chosen Justice Minister Florin Iordache has stepped down, following days of massive anti-government protests across the country triggered by a controversial decree.

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.

The government, however, argued the new decree absolving offenses involving sums of less than 47,500 dollars, was needed to reduce prison overcrowding and align certain laws with the constitution.

On Thursday, Iordache defended the controversial verdict as he announced his resignation, saying he had carried out “all necessary actions to remedy a series of sensitive problems.”

“All my initiatives were legal and constitutional,” he said. “But despite that, public opinion did not consider it sufficient, and that’s why I have decided to submit my resignation.”

Liviu Dragnea, leader of the Social Democratic Party (Photo by AFP)

Iordache was one the co-architects of the controversial January emergency decree, which critics say would have protected corrupt politicians from prosecution.

One immediate beneficiary would have been Liviu Dragnea, who leads the ruling PSD party and faces charges of defrauding the state of 25,000 dollars.

For more than a week, hundreds of thousands of people have been holding demonstrations against the decree, which was later scrapped. Some protesters have vowed to remain on the streets until the entire government steps down.

On Wednesday, Romania’s Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, survived a no-confidence vote in parliament, which is dominated by his left-wing PSD, despite ongoing protests.

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