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Romanian prime minister resigns in wake of club fire

Mass protests over alleged corruption lead Victor Ponta to stand down

Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta has resigned as a result of mass protests which followed last week's deadly nightclub fire.

The blaze at the Colectiv rock club on Friday killed 32 people, with 130 still in hospital, half of them in critical condition.

Huge public protests have been staged, blaming widespread corruption for the allegedly poor safety standards at the venue and at other venues in the country.

Ponta says in a statement: “I’m handing in my mandate, I’m resigning, and implicitly my government too. I am obliged to take note of the legitimate grievances which exist in society. I hope handing in my and my government’s mandate will satisfy the demands of protesters.”

President Klaus Iohannis will name a prime minister to form a new government, with Ponta staying on in the meantime. “I assume the moral blame. As for the legal blame, I will leave it to justice to pronounce,” Ponta says.

More than 20,000 people marched through Bucharest last night (Tuesday) calling for immediate action against alleged corruption.

This week, the owners of Coletiv – Costin Mincu, Alin George Anastasescu and Paul Gancea – were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

The fire is believed to have started when a pyrotechnic display set fire to the stage during a concert by local band Goodbye To Gravity. Up to 400 people were in the club at the time and a stampede started after the fire took hold and swept through the venue.

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