Romania’s Prime Minister Emil Boc is calling for an end of four days of violence in his country after protesters took to the streets of the capital Bucharest expressing their outrage over austerity measures and spending cuts.
Boc has said he is willing to negotiate with the demonstrators and opponents.
The government called an emergency meeting on Sunday night, following the latest clashes.
On Monday, Boc said The crisis has been harsher than we imagined, but added that violence cannot be tolerated.
Already, scores of people have been hurt in clashes between protesters and riot police which have centered on University Square in Bucharest. Stone-throwing protesters were greeted by tear-gas wielding policemen, who arrested several people, mostly youths.
The anti-government rallies were initially prompted by the resignation of the popular deputy health minister who opposed reforms in health care. However, the demonstrations have now broadened to reflect a wider discontent with the government of Boc and President Traian Basescu.
The government had enacted a series of cuts to salaries and benefits, while hiking taxes, after Romania accepted a two-year 20 billion euro ($27.5 billion) loan from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the World Bank in 2009.
More peaceful protests were reported in other major Romanian cities, including Cluj, Timisoara, Brasov and Arad, many demanding the resignation of the current government and calling for new elections.
The resignation of the deputy health minister is an interesting sidelight to the widespread protest movement.
Raed Arafat, a Palestinian-born doctor, resigned from his position after criticism from President Basescu. According to reports, Arafat disapproved of the government’s plan to partially privatize the nation’s health care system (a move that Basescu latter junked).