UPDATE 1 Prime Minister Victor Ponta announces his resignation

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Prime Minister Victor Ponta announced on Wednesday his resignation in a brief statement to media at the Victoria Palace, the seat of Government.

"I have the obligation to note the legitimate discontent that exists in society and the wish, once again legitimate, to have greater responsibility than the owners of the respective firm [editor's note: the Colectiv nigthclub, where a fire killed and injured scores last Friday]. The people feel the need for more and it would be a grave mistake for me to ignore this. I do not want and I do not believe it is fair to leave this responsibility on those who have been in the field, or on mayors, state secretaries, ministers. I am ready to make this gesture that an important part of society is expecting and, obviously, starting today I am submitting my resignation as Prime Minister and, implicitly, of the Government," said the Prime Minister.

Ponta expressed hope that his gesture to resign will satisfy the expectations of those who have protested in the street these days.

"I hope that my, and the Government's, resignation satisfies the expectations of those who have protested and that we return to reason as quickly as possible and to rational solutions for what needs to be done in Romania. We have obtained, by hard labor, in the past years remarkable economic, social results and if we have a long period of instability, of social and political unrest, we risk losing all and returning to the moment of 2012," said the prime minister, referencing the protests in 2012 that led to the toppling of the cabinet headed by PM Emil Boc.

He added that in a climate of instability, it is impossible to promote positive projects. "I am only good at positive projects. Those who believe that with hatred, and by being opposite, can lead a country, they will notice as in 2012 that it cannot be done," said the Premier.

Ponta added that along the years, as a politician, he proved that he can hold his ground against political adversaries.

"Never, however, will I go against the people. And I believe it would be a great mistake and we would all suffer," says the resigning Premier.

He added that the suffering and anger of people should not degenerate "in political games, power games, with negative effects that are impossible to anticipate".

"And I believe that aggressiveness, intolerance and violence, even verbal, represents a cost that we should not assume if we want to live in a country that improves every day," Ponta said.

The Prime Minister has thanked those who voted for and supported the Ponta Government in all these years. "I want to thank those who have voted for this Government, the governing coalition leaders and the MPs who have been close to the Government every time loyally. And I am, also, convinced that the political forces and MPs who have supported us have reason of pride in the social and economic results of the Government, Ponta said.

According to him, "those who speculate in a political sense the suffering of people, sooner or later, will pay a high price." "And I fear I will be right," Ponta completed. AGERPRES

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