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Romania's constitutional court upholds anti-corruption law

Associated Press logo Associated Press 4/05/2017
A man holds a poster that reads "Without Corruption" during a protest in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Over one thousand people have gathered outside the government offices shortly after a parliamentary legal committee approved a draft that would grant an amnesty to people convicted of bribery and influence peddling, months after massive anti-graft protests.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) © The Associated Press A man holds a poster that reads "Without Corruption" during a protest in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Over one thousand people have gathered outside the government offices shortly after a parliamentary legal committee approved a draft that would grant an amnesty to people convicted of bribery and influence peddling, months after massive anti-graft protests.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania's constitutional court on Thursday upheld a law preventing people with convictions from serving as ministers, a victory for the country's anti-corruption fight.

The ruling deals a blow to the powerful chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Liviu Dragnea, who cannot be prime minister due to a conviction last year for vote rigging.

Dragnea has called the law unfair and many Social Democrats want him to be prime minister. The court had postponed making a ruling four times.

The law, introduced in 2001 as Romania prepared for membership of NATO and the European Union, bars people with convictions from serving as ministers. Dragnea could still run for president as the law does not cover that post.

In January, Romania's ombudsman asked the court to declare it unconstitutional.

In a related development, Senators who are members of a parliamentary legal committee voted Thursday to scrap a draft law they had approved the previous day that would have granted amnesty to people convicted of bribery and influence peddling.

More than 1,000 protested the vote Wednesday evening in Bucharest, joined by hundreds more in cities around Romania.

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