Thousands of Romanians demonstrated in the capital Friday in solidarity with an anti-government general strike in Timisoara, the flashpoint of the December 1989 revolution that toppled the late communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu.
The crowds chanted "Down with President Iliescu," "Timisoara," and "Iliescu, you will fall when the king comes back," a sign of the pro-monarchist feelings that have been growing since the government expelled former King Micheal 12 hours after his arrival on Christmas Day following 43 years in exile.The strike by workers and students in Timisoara began earlier this week to protest the plethora of problems Romania has encountered since Ceausescu's fall. Participants are demanding the resignation of Iliescu and Prime Minister Petre Roman, improved social services and explanations for controversial political actions last year, including the government's use of coal miners to surpress protesters in Bucharest.
Industrial strikers are also angered by a lack of raw materials and the costs of spare parts.
An economic commission sent by Roman arrived in Timisoara, 300 miles southwest of Bucharest, on Friday morning for talks with the regional prefect following his resignation a day earlier.
In Bucharest, some 5,000 demonstrators gathered outside the former Communist Party Committee building in Revolution Square in the late afternoon, and the numbers grew rapidly after a small appeal by the grassroots opposition group, Civic Alliance, appeared in the daily newspaper, Romania Libera.