Romania’s national day exposes divisions over justice system


Romania's national day exposes divisions over justice system

The Associated Press
Romanians sing the national anthem during the national day military parade in Bucharest, Romania, Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. Thousands of Romanian troops staged a military parade to celebrate Romania's national day, but key politicians didn't attend, signaling tensions between the president and the ruling left-wing coalition over plans to revamp the justice system.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Key Romanian politicians did not attend a military parade featuring thousands of troops to mark the country's national day, reflecting tensions between the president and the ruling left-wing coalition over plans to revamp the justice system.

President Klaus Iohannis, an ally of the centrist opposition, watched the parade at Bucharest's Triumphal Arch, joined by the Prime Minister Mihai Tudose. The leaders of the coalition, Liviu Dragnea and Calin Popescu Tariceanu, didn't show up to watch the parade or an air show.

At a reception held later at the Cotroceni presidential palace, Iohannis warned about the risk of Romania backing off from its anti-corruption fight.

"There are those politicians who are trying to hold Romania captive in the past, for their personal benefit," he said. "They are willing to do any compromise to reach their goals, even if that means taking Romania off its Euro-Atlantic journey."

Dragnea and Tariceanu have been criticized during recent protests of proposals to restructure Romania's justice system. Both politicians are subjects of corruption-related investigations.

Critics say the proposed changes would make it harder to crack down on high-level corruption. Dragnea, Tariceanu and their allies say the proposals would make the justice system more independent.

On Friday night, up to 1,000 demonstrators gathered outside the government offices for another protest.

Actress Carmen Trocan, 60, who was among the protesters, said she thinks the ruling coalition "wants to take over the justice system so it is a pawn in the hand of politicians."

This week, the U.S. State Department called on Romania's Parliament to reject laws that would make it more difficult to prosecute and punish those engaged in corruption.

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