Thu | Aug 24, 2017

Romanian government resigns following protests

Published:Thursday | November 5, 2015 | 11:00 AM

BUCHAREST (AP):

Romanian Prime Mini-ster Victor Ponta announced the resignation of his government yesterday following huge protests in the wake of a nightclub fire that killed more than 30 people.

"I'm handing in my mandate, I'm resigning, and implicitly, my government too," Ponta said in a statement. He said the government would stay on until a new one is in place.

"I am obliged to take note of the legitimate grievances which exist in society," said Ponta. "I hope handing in my and my government's mandate will satisfy the demands of protesters."

Thousands took to the streets on Tuesday night in a spontaneous protest. They shouted "Shame on you!" and "Assassins!" and waved Romanian flags. Anger has been brewing for some time in Romania against the

government, which many perceive as being corrupt, and last Friday's fire has added to the discontent.

Witnesses said the fire at the Colectiv in Bucharest broke out during a heavy-metal concert in the basement club when a spark ignited foam decor, sending panicked people stampeding for the single exit. The death toll stands at 32, with some 130 still hospitalised, dozens of them in serious or critical condition.

President Klaus Iohannis will name a prime minister to form a new government, which needs to be approved by Parliament. If this fails twice, early elections will be called. Romania is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections in December 2016.

Ponta later proposed Defence Minister Mircea Dusa as an interim prime minister, an appointment that Iohannis needs to approve.