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Thousands In Romania Protest Against Planned Changes To Judicial System

Antigovernment protesters shout "Democracy is under siege" in Bucharest on November 5.

Thousands of people across Romania demonstrated against planned judicial reforms that critics say will weaken the country's anticorruption measures.

Media reports said at least 20,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the government headquarters in the capital, Bucharest, on November 5, then marched to the parliament chanting, "thieves."

Protesters say the proposed changes could put the justice system more directly under government control and weaken efforts to fight endemic corruption in the country. They also claim the changes would benefit members of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD).

Protests were reported in at least 13 other towns and cities, the Mediafax news agency said.

The parliamentary bill would reduce the powers of the anticorruption prosecutor's office (DNA) and prevent it from investigating magistrates.

The demonstrations hark back to protests that erupted after the PSD government attempted to soften anticorruption laws in early 2017.

The protests peaked on February 4 with an estimated at 330,000 people on the streets across the country, making them the largest demonstrations in Romania since the 1989 fall of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

The protests forced the PSD-led government to repeal an emergency decree that critics said would have weakened anticorruption efforts.

Both the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have pressed the Romania government to do more to fight corruption.

The European Commission has warned the government that the plan to overhaul its justice system could undermine those efforts.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa