Romania: mayor urges powerful party leader to resign

September 5, 2018
FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 file photo, the Mayor of Bucharest, Gabriela Firea, attends the unveiling of a monument that celebrates circus arts, in Bucharest, Romania. Mayor Firea claims party colleagues are trying to indirectly blame her for the police response to an anti-corruption protest on Aug. 10, that left 450 people injured when police tried to break up the protest, and leading to public complaints of mistreatment by police. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru, File)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — The mayor of Bucharest launched an attack on the powerful leader of Romania’s ruling party, saying he should resign for the good of “the party and country.”

Mayor Gabriela Firea accused Social Democratic Party chairman Liviu Dragnea of running the party in an underhand way, and of indirectly blocking city hall projects. Firea is also a member of the party

In public, “everything is ‘milk and honey’ but underground in the meetings he has with a few aides, decisions are totally different,” she said late Tuesday in an interview with public television TVR.

“I think (him) stepping down would benefit the party and the country.”

According to polls, Firea is the party’s most popular figure. Dragnea, who keeps a tight rein on the party, can’t be prime minister due to a 2016 conviction for vote-rigging.

Criticism has mounted against Dragnea since an anti-corruption protest last month that drew tens of thousands degenerated into violence that left some 450 people needing medical treatment.

On Wednesday, the opposition Liberal Party filed a motion in Parliament calling for Interior Minister Carmen Dan to be removed.

The Liberals said protesters “were hit and attacked with tear gas,” and said Dan, a Dragnea aide, was responsible for the violence.

“We won’t ever tolerate innocent Romanians being hit over the head with rubber truncheons. This isn’t the country we chose to build after the 1989 revolution,” a Liberal Party statement said.