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Romanian President to Seek New Term, Backs Corruption Fight


FILE - Romanian President Klaus Iohannis speaks with an AP reporter at the Cotroceni Palace in Bucharest, Feb. 8, 2017.

Romania's president said Saturday that he would seek a new term in office, pledging to fight corruption after the leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party was convicted of abuse of power.

President Klaus Iohannis said he decided to make the announcement after Social Democratic leader Liviu Dragnea was given a 3½-year jail sentence this week. The president, whose mandate expires in 2019, said public confidence in the Romanian government was very low.

Later Saturday, thousands of Romanians again held anti-corruption protests outside the government offices in Bucharest, while thousands more assembled in cities around Romania, including Sibiu and Cluj. They waved Romanian flags and called for the government to resign and for an early election to be held.

After the sentencing, the Social Democrats reiterated their support for Dragnea, saying he should be considered not guilty pending a final verdict. They promised to implement new laws that critics say will weaken the nation's fight against corruption.

Iohannis, a centrist, said during a visit to his native city of Sibiu that the Social Democrats were lobbying "for a criminal.''

Later, supporters rallied outside his home in Sibiu, yelling: "Iohannis, don't give up!''

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