|Romanian Interior Minister Vasile Blaga announced his resignation yesterday. (D. Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images)|
BUCHAREST — The Romanian government was in an uproar yesterday over austerity protests, with the nation’s interior minister resigning, the opposition demanding the prime minister go as well, and top police officials holding emergency talks with the president.
The chaos reflected social fallout from the sharp wage cuts, tax hikes, and other austerity measures the government has taken to fight its budget deficit amid a deep recession.
President Traian Basescu’s government had been unable to pay wages and pensions without a $26 billion bailout loan last year from the International Monetary Fund and other lenders, and the IMF is now demanding strong action to trim Romania’s national debt.
The government was shocked on Friday, when 6,000 police officers, angry over a 25 percent wage cut, marched to the presidential palace and threw eggs at it.
Yesterday, Interior Minister Vasile Blaga said the officers had staged an illegal action and forgot the oath they swore when they earned their badges. Blaga, a close ally of the president, then resigned, calling the move “one of honor.’’
Crin Antonescu of the opposition Liberal Party, meanwhile, called on Prime Minister Emil Boc to resign along with Blaga.