The Romanian prime minister has warned protesters who have gathered on their fifth day that violence will not be tolerated, after 59 people were injured in clashes between police and demonstrators, Reuters reported.
Riot police began using tear gas against protesters, who were throwing bricks, smashing windows and setting fire to newspaper stands and trash cans in central Bucharest, the Reuters reported. Protests began on Thursday and demonstrators have demanded that Prime Minister Emil Boc and his close political ally President Traian Băsescu resign.
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Boc has warned if protests continue to become violent, it could jeopardize the economic stability and growth of the country, the Associated Press reported. He called the violence “unacceptable” and said it “cannot be tolerated,” the AP reported.
Romanians are protesting tough austerity measures, including a controversial health care law that will be redrafted. Taxes have increased and public wages have dropped by 25 percent since 2009, when the Romanian government took a two-year $27.5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the World Bank as its economy faced tough economic times, the AP reported. Under the agreement, these austerity measures were imposed.
“We understand the hardships Romanians are facing ... The crisis has been harsher than we imagined,” Boc said, the AP reported.
On Monday an opposition coalition said it is planning mass demonstrations and the coalition will meet to formalize protests plans, according to Crin Antonescu, a liberal opposition leader, CNN reported. Thousands of Romanians have gathered in the capital and 40 other cities to demonstrate.
"The National Liberal Party asks the prime minister and his cabinet to resign immediately because they couldn't manage the violent protests held over the last couple of days in Bucharest," Antonescu said, CNN reported.
Close to 250 people were fined for disturbing the peace and 36 will be investigated for alleged violent acts, CNN reported.
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