Romanian Prime Minister Resigns Following Tragic Nightclub Fire
Published Nov 04, 2015Romania is still reeling from the tragic events of last Friday (October 30), when a pyro display by metal band Goodbye to Gravity at Bucharest's Colectiv nightclub led to a fire that killed 32 attendees and injured close to 200 more. Now, the fallout from the incident has led Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta to resign.
His resignation follows widespread protests in which over 20,000 people demonstrated in Bucharest on Tuesday night (November 3). The New York Times reports that protesters said that the government has been too liberal about granting permits and doesn't provide proper inspections of public venues.
Ponta was already under inspection for possible corruption, as he had been indicted on charges of forgery, money laundering and being an accessory to tax evasion.
"I have the obligation to acknowledge that there is legitimate anger in society," he said in a statement. "People feel the need for more, and it would be wrong of me to ignore this."
In addition for calling for Ponta's resignation, the people have demanded the resignation of Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea and Mayor Cristian Popescu Piedone (who oversees the district of Bucharest where Colectiv is located).
Ponta said, "I do not want, nor do I think it is fair, to leave this responsibility on those who have been in the field or on the mayors, secretaries of state, ministers. I am ready to be the one to make this gesture that parts of society are waiting for, and starting today, I am resigning my mandate as prime minister. I do this because in my years as a politician I put up a fight in any battle with political opponents. However, I won't put up a fight against the people."
Romania has a semi-presidential republic, meaning that it has an elected president who then appoints a prime minister, who in turn oversees the government. Ponta's resignation brings an end to his government. The president is Klaus Iohannis, and there's no indication that he intends to step down. He wrote on Facebook on Tuesday that he was impressed by the demonstrations and that the people were right to demand accountability from politicians.
Previously, the owners of the Colectiv nightclub — Costin Mincu, Alin George Anastasescu and Paul Gancea — were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, with prosecutors saying they should have not let the show continue without a proper permit. There were apparently too many people and not enough emergency exits.
Goodbye to Gravity guitarists Vlad Telea and Mihai Alexandru both died, while singer Andrei Galut and bassist Alex Pascu were severely injured. As for attendees, dozens still remain in serious condition in hospital.