17 Jan 2012

Calls for resignation of president

6:08 pm on 17 January 2012

There have been calls for President Traian Basescu of Romania to resign after demonstrators took to the streets for a fourth day of protests in response to unpopular austerity and health care measures.

In the capital Bucharest, protesters gathered in the city center with some throwing rocks at riot police who responded with tear gas.

Deutsche Welle Radio reports some 4000 people took part nationwide on Saturday and Sunday.

Prime Minister Emil Boc appealed for calm on Monday.

''Freedom of speech is guaranteed in Romania, and peaceful demonstrations are legitimate, but street violence is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated," he said.

The premier called for dialogue and said he sympathized with the "suffering and the difficulties" of citizens.

''Street violence will only impair our chance of creating prosperity more rapidly and put at risk Romania's situation on an international level,'' Mr Boc warned.

Minister resigns

Health Minister Raed Arafat has resigned over proposals to cut the health budget - which the government now says it will withdraw.

Deutsche Welle Radio reports Romania took a €20 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the World Bank in 2009.

On Monday, the IMF said it would expand available credit for Romania, citing concern about the country's economic outlook.