The Romanian cabinet has resigned in response to nationwide mass protests that followed a deadly fire in a Bucharest nightclub in which 32 people died, Ministers said they would continue to carry out their duties until a new government is formed.
“I’m handing in my mandate, I’m resigning, and implicitly my government too,” AP cited Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta as saying in a statement Wednesday. The PM said he was “obliged to take note of the legitimate grievances which exist in society.”
“I hope handing in my and my government’s mandate will satisfy the demands of protesters,” Ponta said.
The PM stepped down after an estimated 20,000 protesters took to the streets of Bucharest, the Romanian capital, demanding the resignations of PM Ponta, Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea and the mayor of the district where the nightclub was located.
On Monday, the crowds in the streets of Romanian capital waved national flags, chanting “Assassins!” and “Shame on you!”
The Romanian government has long been perceived as corrupt, and Friday’s nightclub tragedy brought emotions to boiling point.
Cristian Popescu Piedone, the mayor of the Bucharest district where the nightclub fire took place, told reporters he is morally guilty for the deadliest fire in Romania’s history.
“I assume the moral blame. As for the legal [blame], I will leave it to justice to pronounce,” Piedone said.
“I understand what is being asked and what is expected, and they are right, someone has to take political responsibility,” President Klaus Iohannis wrote on his Facebook page late Tuesday, adding that “the next step is for politicians, who cannot ignore this sentiment of revolt.”
“We need a new start,” Alina Gorghiu, co-leader of the leading opposition Liberal Party, said Wednesday.
New elections are needed “to resolve the crisis we find ourselves in,” and give Romania “a new parliament legitimized by a popular vote,” AP cited Gorghiu as saying.
On Friday, October 30, 32 people lost their lives and nearly 180 were injured in an explosion and fire which happened during a heavy metal concert accompanied by a pyrotechnics show at the Colectiv nightclub.
After fire broke out in the basement of the club, it ignited foam décor, which prompted scores of panicked spectators to try and escape through a single door.
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