Jan 15 - Police fire tear gas and make arrests as thousands protest in Bucharest over anger at a healthcare reform bill. Michaela Cabrera reports.
Anger on the streets of Bucharest. Thousands of Romanians staged a third straight day of protests on Saturday (January 14). What began as an opposition to a bill on healthcare reform widened to a condemnation of the government's austerity measures. Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters. Several people were injured and taken to the hospital. Some protesters scuffled with police. An officer suffered a head injury after demonstrators pelted him with stones. The protests broke out after the deputy health minister resigned, objecting to health reforms proposed by the government. Critics of the bill argue that it favored private health care practitioners. Facing mounting pressure, President Traian Basescu scrapped the bill, saying he realised that it lacked support. (SOUNDBITE) (Romanian) PRESIDENT OF ROMANIA, TRAIAN BASESCU, SAYING: "Nobody from the system wants changes. Or very few want it -- maybe young and middle age doctors. Hospitals do not want changes, family doctors do not want it, the system itself doesn't want it." The move did not pacify the protesters. They called for Basescu's resignation and early elections. (SOUNDBITE) (Romanian) PROTESTER, SAYING: "Thieves, bandits, people have nothing to live with! Resign! Resign! Resign!" The protests come in the wake of unpopular austerity measures taken by the government, such as cutting public sector salaries. The measures followed an aid deal signed with the IMF two years ago, intended to shore up the country's finances. Michaela Cabrera, Reuters.