US criticizes plans to weaken Romania anti-corruption fight

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People gather in front of the government headquarters at the start of a protest in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017. Thousands have protested in Romania's capital and other major cities against planned changes to the justice system they say will

People gather in front of the government headquarters at the start of a protest in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017. Thousands have protested in Romania's capital and other major cities against planned changes to the justice system they say will

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — The U.S. State Department has expressed concern about planned legislation it says could weaken Romania's fight against corruption.

In a statement Monday, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the proposals threaten "the progress Romania has made in recent years to build strong judicial institutions shielded from political interference."

The statement urged Parliament "to reject proposals that weaken the rule of law and endanger the fight against corruption."

Romania has been praised for efforts to clamp down on high-level corruption in recent years. However, the left-wing government wants to revamp the justice system, which has sparked protests.

A woman holds a sign that reads
A woman holds a sign that reads "All for Justice" backdropped by the communist era build House of the People, now headquarters of Romania's parliament, during a protest in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017. Thousands have protested in Romania's ca

On Sunday, tens of thousands demonstrated across Romania.

One proposal is to legally prevent Romania's president from blocking the appointment of key judges.

President Klaus Iohannis says he will use constitutional means to oppose the plan.

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