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Romanian riots continue for 4th day

More than 1,000 protesters clash with police in Bucharest.

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Romanian protesters face police in the center of Bucharest, Sunday, during a demonstration against the government's austerity program and Romanian President Traian Basescu. (DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)

A fourth day of rioting in Bucharest forced the Romanian government to call an emergency meeting late Sunday. At least 13 people have been injured after more than 1,000 protestors clashed with police.

Demonstrators, angry at recent austerity measures and the resignation of a popular health official, threw rocks and fireballs at police. Police responded with tear gas and flares. The Washington Post reported that one man was briefly set on fire during the clash.

Interior Minister Traian Igas called the emergency meeting to deal with a crisis that shows no sign of abating. The riots are the most serious since President Traian Basescu, 60, came to power in 2004.

Protesters yelled, “The Mafioso government stole everything we had,” and “Get out you miserable dog” – an expression of contempt in reference to Basescu.

One protester, who would only identify himself as Sorin, said, “We are here to protest. We cannot face it any more. We have no money to survive; our pensions are so small, the expenses are more than we can afford. It's no way to live.”

Clashes erupted on Saturday as protesters marched towards Bucharest's University Square. Mayor Sorin Oprescu asked protesters to refrain from violence as they roamed through the center of the capital. Antena 3 TV reported nearby shops were vandalized.

BBC reported a local TV reporter was hurt, and police detained as many as 30 people.

The resignation of popular health official Raed Arafat, who stepped down Tuesday in protest of health reform and public attacks against him by the president, triggered rioting.

Basescu said Friday he was withdrawing the unpopular reforms; however, protests continued, spreading to include general discontent with the government's policies. Demonstrators are calling for Basescu to resign and hold early elections.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120115/romanian-riots-continue-4th-day