Bucharest, 20 January 1999 (RFE/RL) - Romanian President Emil Constantinescu today called the country's parliament back from winter recess as striking miners continue to march toward Bucharest. A statement from Constantinescu's office said the extraordinary session of parliament was called because miners were trying to turn their 17-day strike into a political confrontation. The government fears a repeat of the violence of 1990-1991 in Bucharest which led to several deaths and the downfall of the country's first post-communist government.
Constantinescu also invited leaders of the centrist government coalition as well as the heads of leftist and nationalist opposition parties for consultations tomorrow.
The striking miners early today defied government warnings and continued their march from Targu Jiu, 250 kilometers northwest of the capital. They are traveling in some 60 buses as well as trucks and private cars.
The miners, who have kept their itinerary secret, appeared to be headed first to the central Romanian town of Rimnicu-Vilcea. The police chief of the Vilcea region, Nicolae Purcareanu, said police had been ordered to prevent the advance of the miners "at all cost."
The miners are demanding a pay raise and the scrapping of plans to shut down two unprofitable mines. They arrived in Targu Jiu yesterday on foot and by bus after breaking through barricades set up by police, who also fired tear gas and smoke bombs.