Romanian police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters in the capital, Bucharest, as tens of thousands took to the streets to call on the country’s government to resign.
Friday’s rally was attended by many expatriates who returned to Romania to express their anger over what they say is entrenched high-level corruption, low wages, and attempts by the ruling Social Democrat (PSD) party to weaken the judiciary.
Thousands of people also joined demonstrations in other main Romanian cities, including Cluj in the northwest, central Sibiu and Timisoara in the west.
In Bucharest, the crowd chanted “resign” and “thieves” as they assembled in a central square outside the main government building.
Messages projected on buildings around the square said, “We are the people” and “No violence”.
Hundreds of protesters tried to break through the police cordon and officers in riot gear responded with tear gas and pepper spray, forcing the demonstrators back.
At least 100 people required medical attention after inhaling the gases, while 10 police officers were injured by hurled stones and bottles, the emergency services said.
“Corruption has been a big problem in Romania for a long time,” Kit Gillet, a journalist who attended the protest in Bucharest, told Al Jazeera.
“People are angry about that and feel that the system needs to change.”
Romania ranks as one of the European Union’s most corrupt states and Brussels keeps its justice system under special monitoring.