Thousands of Romanians rallied in central Bucharest Saturday, renewing demands for the resignation of President Ion Iliescu and Prime Minister Petre Roman.
The rally by doctors and teachers to protest low wages and poor health and educational conditions preceded a planned reshuffle by Roman of his National Salvation Front government Monday.A crowd of 1,500 people swelled to more than 6,000 when anti-government marchers from a separate protest poured into Revolution Square and joined the rally shouting: "Down with Iliescu," "Down with Roman" and "General strike."
Dr. Dragos Niculescu, who addressed the crowd, said health conditions in Romania were worse than under Stalinist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who was toppled and executed in the December 1989 revolution that overthrew communist rule.
Niculescu said there was "medical genocide" in the country because of severe shortages of medicines, dilapidated hospitals and miserable pay.
The crowd clapped and cheered as he told them: "The present situation was inherited by the National Salvation Front government, but nothing has been done to improve it. They (the government) must go."
Teachers' union leader Catalin Croitoru said teachers were working with 45 pupils to a classroom, without books and for salaries sometimes less than those of unskilled workers.
The rally was joined by marchers from Civic Alliance, the strongest extra-parliamentary opposition group, to support 60 former political prisoners from the Transylvanian town of Brasov.
The ex-detainees were arrested in 1987 for organizing Romania's first known protest against Ceausescu.