Romania’s National Day Exposes Divisions Over Justice System

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Thousands of troops staged a military parade Friday to celebrate Romania’s national day, but key politicians didn’t attend, signaling tensions between the president and the ruling left-wing coalition over plans to revamp the country’s justice system.

President Klaus Iohannis, an ally of the centrist opposition, watched the military parade at Bucharest’s Triumphal Arch, joined by the Prime Minister Mihai Tudose. But the leaders of the coalition, Liviu Dragnea and Calin Popescu Tariceanu, didn’t show up to the military parade and an air show, which drew a crowd of thousands.

Iohannis said in a message earlier posted on social media that Romania was celebrating “our ideal, as a nation, to be free and united in a prosperous Romania led by politicians who are responsible and people of integrity.”

Dragnea and Tariceanu, who are subjects of corruption-related prosecutions, have faced recent protests over proposals to restructure the justice system, which critics say will make it harder to crack down on high-level corruption. Dragnea and Tariceanu and their allies say the proposals will make the justice system more independent.

This week, the U.S. State Department called on Romania’s Parliament to reject laws that would weaken the anti-corruption fight.

Anti-government protests are also scheduled later Friday in the capital and other Romanian cities.

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