Romania's Leftist Govt Moves to Impeach President Basescu

World | July 4, 2012, Wednesday // 16:56|  views

Romanian President Traian Basescu (R) prepares to cast his ballot during local elections in Bucharest, Romania, 10 June, 2012. EPA/BGNES

Romania's leftist government will seek to suspend and then impeach the country's center-right President, Traian Basescu.

Basescu is an outspoken opponent of the ruling Social Liberal Union (USL). Romanian state media quotes lawmaker Eugen Nicolaescu of the ruling Social Liberal Union as saying the government would submit impeachment documents in parliament on July 4.

The move comes after the ruling party recently passed a new law making it possible to impeach a president with just a simple majority of voters in a national referendum.

On July 3, lawmakers ousted the speakers of both houses of Parliament - each a Basescu ally - and replaced them with politicians close to Prime Minister Victor Ponta.

Ponta, who is facing calls to resign over accusations of plagiarism, has ignored a court ruling last week ordering that Basescu could represent Romania at a European Council meeting and traveled to Brussels regardless.

The USL's majority in parliament means it can easily win a vote to suspend President Traian Basescu for a month, and will then hold a national referendum on impeachment, international media report.

In power since May and favorite to win an election later this year, the party has passed a law to make it easier to impeach Basescu, who influenced the previous austerity-minded government despite his ceremonial role.

The new law is still pending judgment by the country's constitutional court (CCR), which says its independence is under threat from the government.

"We have decided ... to ask parliament to set an extraordinary meeting to suspend the Romanian president," USL lawmaker Eugen Nicolaescu was quoted as saying by state news agency Agerpres. The process could last several days.

Basescu was previously suspended in 2007 but easily defeated the impeachment attempt in the referendum.

A new USL law states that a simple majority of voters in a referendum would be enough to impeach Basescu, which the CCR has yet to rule on. Until now, a majority of the entire electorate was needed to impeach the president, whether they voted or not.

The government - led by Prime Minister Victor Ponta - has also attacked the CCR and said it was under Basescu's control, but backtracked on plans to replace judges on Wednesday after the court accused Ponta and his party of trying to dismantle it.

The CCR has notified European authorities of threats to its independence and rights groups and some Western diplomats have also criticized the government.

The USL has committed to Romania's International Monetary Fund-led aid deal but questions over economic policy and easing austerity have kept the leu currency under pressure, it fell 0.5% on Wednesday, and borrowing costs rose.

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Tags: Romania, Traian Basescu, Romanian President, viktor ponta, ROmanian Prime Minister, Romanian PM, impeachment, USL, social liberal union


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