Bucharest Concert Tragedy Leads to Romanian Prime Minister’s Resignation
Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta has resigned in the wake of a Bucharest nightclub fire that killed more than 30 people and sent over 100 others to the hospital.
As previously reported, the Oct. 30 blaze at the city's Colectiv club was started by sparks from a pyrotechnics display that went off during an album-release party hosted by the Romanian metal band Goodbye to Gravity. Two of the band members reportedly died in the fire, with the others still in the hospital, and police have arrested the club owners, charging them with suspicion of manslaughter.
The Guardian reports that Ponta announced his resignation after a demonstration that drew roughly 20,000 people into the streets of Bucharest, calling for a number of local and national politicians to step down. "I’m handing in my mandate. I’m resigning – and implicitly my government too," said Ponta. "I am obliged to take note of the legitimate grievances which exist in society. I hope handing in my and my government’s mandate will satisfy the demands of protesters."
Cristian Popescu Piedone, mayor of the Bucharest district in which Colectiv was located, also resigned. "I assume the moral blame," he said. "As for the legal [blame], I will leave it to justice to pronounce."
Ponta's resignation comes after a series of allegations of impropriety, and follows his indictment earlier this summer on charges of corruption. Although he'd ignored previous calls to resign, and insisted he'd complete his term in 2016, the demonstrations after the fire — and, presumably, political pressure from above — led to a change of heart.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has issued his own response to the demonstrations, writing on his Facebook page, "I understand what is being asked and what is expected, and they are right, someone has to take political responsibility. The next step is for politicians, who cannot ignore this sentiment of revolt."
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