Romanians rally in support of anti-graft chief | News | DW | 26.02.2018
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Romanians rally in support of anti-graft chief

Thousands have protested in Bucharest after the justice minister called for the removal of the head of Romania's anti-corruption body. Critics say the government wants to avoid being targeted by investigations.

Thousands of Romanians have called on the justice minister to step down after he suggested the country's anti-corruption chief should be fired.

Justice Minister Tudorel Toader on Thursday called for the head of country's anti-corruption agency DNA, Laura Codruta Kovesi, to be sacked.

He accused her of "exceeding her authority," "arbitrary behavior," "contempt of parliament" and being "authoritarian."

Around 4,000 people braved subzero temperatures in the capital, Bucharest, on Sunday to back the anti-graft prosecutor and call for the justice minister to go. 

Protesters in Bucharest blew whistles and shouted "Resignation!" and "You won't get away with it!" outside government offices.

Protests drawing several hundred people were also held in at least four other areas, including the western cities of Timisoara and Cluj, as well as Brasov and Sibiu in central Romania.

Read more: DW report from Bucharest — Mass protests in Romania

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Protests in Romania continue despite cold

Corruption crackdown

Critics say the government wants to replace Kovesi with someone more pliable in one of the European Union's most corrupt states.

The 44-year-old prosecutor has led convictions or launched investigations into members of the two ruling parties, the Social Democrats (PSD) and the Liberals (ALDE), and figures close to them.

The justice minister can request to have Kovesi removed, but the ultimate decision is up to President Klaus Iohannis, who is from the center-right. He said on Thursday he was "happy" with the DNA.

Over 87,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the president not to dismiss the anti-corruption chief.

Last year, Romania's ruling Social Democrats tried to weaken anti-corruption laws, drawing massive protests against the measure. 

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The fight against corruption in Romania

cw/cmk (AFP, dpa, AP)

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