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Street violence not to be tolerated during protests: Romanian PM


09:28, January 17, 2012

BUCHAREST, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Street violence is intolerable and authorities will take measures against people who engage in acts of violence during protests, Romania's Prime Minister Emil Boc said Monday.

"Dialogue is the only way to solve problems," said Boc at the end of a meeting of the ruling coalition called after thousands of people staged protests in the capital Bucharest and other major cities across the country.

The protests, the most serious ones since President Traian Basescu came to power in 2004, were sparked by the resignation of public health official Raed Arafat.

The Palestinian-born doctor Tuesday resigned from his position as deputy secretary of state in the health ministry in protest of a new healthcare bill that may result in the closure or privatization of emergency services.

Eventually, the protests turned against the government's austerity measures and unpopular policies such as cuts in salaries, welfare benefits as well as higher taxes.

President Basescu announced a withdrawal of the healthcare bill late Friday, but that has been unable to quell the anger of the people.

Demonstrators demanded the president and the cabinet quit, and called for early elections. Some angry protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the police, who fired tear gas in response.

Some 50 people were injured in clashes on Sunday night in Bucharest and 19 people were taken to hospital, according to emergency and ambulance services. The injured included protesters and police officers alike.

Protests were staged in 34 counties apart from Bucharest, a Romanian riot police spokesperson said.


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