Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta resigned this morning following protests over a deadly nightclub fire in Bucharest and a long string of allegations of corruption.
Tens of thousands marched in Bucharest and across Romania on Tuesday, demanding cabinet resignations as the death toll from a nightclub fire reached 32, with dozens more people in hospital critically hurt.
Angry about the way authorities grant permits and inspect public venues, protesters were still pouring into the streets late into the night, carrying banners saying “Corruption Kills” and chanting “Murderers!” The disaster last weekend was one of the country’s worst in decades.
In Bucharest, over 20,000 people marched to the government headquarters and the interior ministry, and protests spread out in the central Romanian cities of Brasov and Ploiesti. More rallies were being announced on Facebook across Romania in coming days.
The fire broke out on Friday night, when fireworks lit at a rock concert inside the Colectiv club set non-fireproofed insulation foam ablaze, triggering a stampede towards the single exit and trapping many of the roughly 400-strong audience inside.
Victor Ponta was indicted in September on charges of forgery, money-laundering and being an accessory to tax evasion, piling pressure on a premier also facing mounting criticism and elections.
Ponta, who was first charged in August, has repeatedly dismissed the accusations and hit out at a “totally unprofessional” prosecutor, saying the charges had been fabricated.
Romania has been dogged by political instability since shedding Communist rule in 1989, but markets appear to have shrugged off the corruption case so far.