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Majority starts president’s suspension procedures

A day after the Social Liberal Union (USL) legislators dismissed with a large majority of votes the two Speakers of the Parliament, the Union started today the procedures for the suspension and possible impeachment of President Traian Basescu. This is the second time when the Parliament asks for Basescu’s suspension.

The USL legislators had drawn up today the motivation for Basescu’s suspension that spreads on 17 pages and lists numerous infringement of the Constitution, spanning over the last two and a half years of his second mandate.

According to procedures, the head of state has 24 hours to respond to the charges.  The Parliament will debate and vote on the suspension proposal on Friday, 5 July. The suspension proposal was sent today to the Constitutional Court which has only a consultative role on the matter.

In the likelihood that the President is suspended, the newly elected Senate Speaker, the co-president of USL and Liberal leader Crin Antonescu will take over the prerogatives of the head of state until a referendum is organized. The referendum will take place one month after the suspension, and the president and USL will be able to campaign to gather the popular support. The Social Liberals intend to organize the public consultation as soon as possible as to give less time to Basesu to gather his troops and extend the political turmoil that intensified since Monday.

USL accuses Traian Basescu of overstepping in an abusive fashion his presidential prerogatives by assuming in unconstitutional fashion the executive powers, breaching the independence of the institutions and the separation of state powers and most of all of authoritarian rule.

The political instability in Romania took unprecedented proportions as of last week, when Premier Victor Ponta went to Brussels to the European Council Summit, where president Traian Basescu wanted to go as well. The president called the Constitutional Court to rule over the dispute with the Parliament, who, two weeks ago, endorsed in a Declaration, Ponta’s participation and his political mandate as well. Only that the decision of the Court, ruling that the head of state is the one who represents Romania abroad, came to late to be published in the official gazette, and the PM left to Brussels on the basis of the parliament’s endorsement.

USL contested the Constitutional Court’s ruling deeming it was biased, as the president of the Court, Augustin Zagrean, a former fellow party member of Basescu’s (who in fact appointed him as president of the Court), already prejudged the case, by stating at his own initiative on 16 June that the head of state represents Romania in foreign matters.

On the other hand, the PM and the majority in Parliament argued that from among the 27-member countries only two are represented by the heads of states, namely Cyprus and France, at the European Council meetings were matters of EU’s internal affairs are discussed.

The criticism of the Court lead to a protest letter sent on Monday (yesterday) by the judges who are accusing serious political pressures. Local press reports say that the communiqué was sent based on rumors spread yesterday from the camp of the president, accusing the government of preparing the replacement of the judges. The information was denied by the premier soon after, but the accusation already snowballed in the ranks of the former ruling supporters, the civil society and among Euro deputies in Brussels. The former ruling party accused USL of trying to ‘subordinate’ Justice and informed the EU Justice commissioner and Viviane Reding who reacted saying she is concerned over the attacks on Justice. Also, the U.S Ambassador to Bucharest sent a communiqué saying Washington is concerned with the attempts of threatening the independence of the public institution.

The presidential Democrat Liberal Party (PDL) was trying last night to mobilize the public to take to the streets and protest against the dismissal of the two Speakers and of the Ombudsman, accused by the Majority of hampering the government’s and Parliament’s activity by favouring PDL.

USL took over the government late April, following a no confidence vote and obtained the majority in Parliament. The Union of the Social Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives were backed by a large popular support who was confirmed at 10 June mayoral and municipal elections, when it obtained over 54 percent of the mandates nationwide, while PDL got less than 15 percent. Since the spark of the massive street protests against the abuses of the former ruling party and against Traian Basescu, USL announced the intention to dismiss him, on charges of infringing the Constitution.

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