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Romanian PM Grindeanu digs in

dpa logodpa 5/02/2017 Kathrin Lauer

Despite scrapping a controversial corruption decree, Romania's cabinet is facing calls for resignation.

Embattled Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu insists he won't resign despite protesters in record numbers calling for him and his cabinet to step down over a now-abandoned corruption measure.

"I will not resign," Grindeanu told broadcaster Antena3 on Sunday. Only the parliament could force him to but he had a definite majority there, he added.

Grindeanu's cabinet scrapped the measure, which decriminalised some graft violations, earlier on Sunday, after days of mass protests.

Despite that, as many as 250,000 people rallied in Bucharest and similar numbers took to the streets of at least 20 other cities in the largest public protest since the 1989 riots that toppled Communist strongman Nicolae Ceausescu.

How the crisis would end remained uncertain as social media called for further rallies.

Romanians travelled from far and wide to take part in the Bucharest rally, where protesters sang the national anthem. In the western city of Timisoara and northern city of Iasi, crowds recited the Lord's Prayer.

In Ploiesti, north of Bucharest, about 3000 protesters kneeled outside the local offices of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) to demand its resignation.

A pro-government rally was also staged outside the presidential palace in Bucharest, where 2000 demonstrators gathered to accuse President Klaus Iohannis of dividing Romania after he openly sided with the protesters as one of the most vehement critics of the cabinet.

A day earlier Grindeanu yielded to the pressure of protests, then in their fifth day, and promised to pull the decree.

Passed earlier last week, the proposed law drew fire from the European Union and United States over its potential to harm Romania's fragile anti-corruption drive.

Had it survived, it would have protected dozens of officials who have been accused of wrongdoing by Romania's anti-corruption agency, including PSD leader Liviu Dragnea.

Romania's crisis-hit government has been in power just one month.

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