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Romania in 'fully fledged' crisis, says president

Romania's president has told politicians the country is in a "fully fledged" political crisis, after hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated against a government measure that would weaken the country's anti-corruption drive.

In an address to parliament, President Klaus Iohannis said the majority of Romanians now consider the country is going in the wrong direction.

The president said: "Don't mock Romania ... Keep the economic growth."

Some politicians shouted "shame on you!" and walked out.

Introducing Mr Iohannis, senate speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu said the country was in "a very tense situation".

Liviu Dragnea, chairman of the governing Social Democratic Party, and Mr Tariceanu refused to greet the president when he arrived.

"Romania needs a government that is transparent, which governs predictably by the light of day, not sneakily at night," the president said, referring to the late hour the government passed an emergency ordinance last week aimed at decriminalising some forms of official corruption.

The move - which bypassed parliament and was not signed off by Mr Iohannis, who has limited powers - ignited the biggest protests seen since communism ended in the country in 1989.

As a result, the government will now seek to introduce the plan in parliament.

Despite the crisis, Mr Iohannis said Romania did not need early elections, a view the government shares.

In his speech, Mr Iohannis pressed ahead with an earlier initiative to hold a referendum on another government initiative to pardon prisoners.

Critics say the proposal will help government allies convicted of corruption.

Mr Dragnea, the main power broker behind the government, expressed disappointment Mr Iohannis did not deliver a "speech of unity", and said "he should leave the government alone, to govern".

AP

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