Live Blog: Romanians Rally in Massive Anti-Corruption Protest
 
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Live Blog: Romanians Rally in Massive Anti-Corruption Protest

Thousands of Romanians took to the streets again over the weekend to protest against the government’s decision to relax anti-graft legislation.

  • Thousands of Romanians took to the streets on Saturday for the fifth day in a row to protest a decree, passed by the new government, that weakens anti-corruption laws.
     
    The measure has plunged Romania into a political crisis, with President Klaus Iohannis filing a constitutional court challenge to the measure, saying it damages the rule of law and the fight against  corruption.
     
    4.30 pm local time
    Over 10.000 people estimated to have already taken to the streets in Bucharest. 
     
    3.00 pm, local time
    Romania's ruling Social Democrats ,PSD, are seeking a solution to defuse a conflict created by the government's approval of a decree decriminalising some corruption offences, PSD leader Liviu Dragnea said on Saturday.
     
    Dragnea,who will hold a meeting with senior PSD figures on the issue, told DCNews: 'There may even be talks to withdraw it if the Prime Minister wants that.' 
     
    'I feel I can't keep under control from the center ... the pressure from regional organisations that can bring one million people onto the streets of Bucharest. As a result, I decided to meet coalition partners to propose a solution to solve the deadlock,' he added in an exlusive interview.
     
    Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu's PSD-led government has so far firmly rejected all calls to rescind the decree, though splits in the cabinet emerged on Thursday with the resignation of a minister and a call from a vice-president of the PSD for the measure to be withdrawn.
     
    The PSD leader picked Grindeanu to head the government after Dragnea himself was barred by a previous sentence for rigging a referendum.

    If the decree is enforced it could put an end to the ongoing trial for Dragnea, accused of using his political influence to secure state salaries for two people working at his party headquarters between 2006 and 2013. Dozens of other political figures from all parties would also benefit from the decree.
     
    More protests are expected throughout Romania on Saturday evening and into next week. With his supporters planning counter-rallies, Dragnea says that he wants to avoid a potentially explosive situation.
     
    In the meantime, protesters are planning to form a human chain around the Parliament Building, one of the biggest constructions in the world. 
     
     
    1.30 pm, local time
    The plateau in front of the Victoria Governmental Palace is almost full with parents and children coming to demonstrate on Saturday against the modifications of the Criminal Codes under an emergency ordinance.
     
     
     
     
  • During his four-day visit to Kosovo, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, stated on Thursday that the ongoing political deliberations concerning Kosovo have not focused sufficiently on the needs of victims of the 1998-1999 war in the country.  

    “A paradigm shift is necessary in order to put the victims at the centre of the political dialogue, and prioritise their human rights,” Muiznieks stated.

    The Commissioner also said he is concerned that more than 15 years after the conflict in Kosovo, around 16,500 people remain displaced in the country. 

    Addressing the judicial system, Muiznieks claimed “urgent measures are necessary to redress this situation, especially given that domestic courts are taking up more responsibilities, including in the field of wartime crimes.”

    Muiznieks, whose four-day visit to Kosovo ended on Thursday, also highlighted the need for Kosovo authorities to effectively address and investigate all reported cases of attacks and threats against journalists, which he says are having a “chilling” effect on journalism in the country.
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