Thursday, May 31, 2007

AP: Romanian president calls on lawmakers to dismiss government, call early elections

BUCHAREST, Romania: Romanian President Traian Basescu Wednesday called on Parliament to respect the result of a referendum that failed to impeach him and demanded the government be dismissed and early elections held.

"Only by respecting the results of the referendum does Parliament show it respects Romanians," Basescu told lawmakers in Parliament. "The only solution is the dismissal of the government and early elections."

Basescu easily won a May 19 referendum on whether he should be impeached, gaining about three-fourths of the vote.

Lawmakers suspended Basescu accusing him of violating the constitution by fueling political disputes and taking on duties that belong to the prime minister, despite a court ruling that the president did not break the law.

Basescu also called on Parliament to adopt a law allowing for lawmakers to be elected individually, rather than on party lists and to pass a law that would ban former Communists and communist-era Securitate agents from holding public office. He also called for reforms in the health system, warning the government that delays in reforms could lead to European Union funds being withheld.

Romania joined the EU on Jan. 1, and the country has been mired in political bickering since then, particularly between Basescu and Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu.

The president has limited powers, but a large informal influence, particularly after the referendum.

Mircea Geoana who heads the opposition Social Democracy Party said that Basescu's speech to Parliament was one of "revenge and political vendetta."

Most political parties do not favor early elections because they have a poor showing in the polls. The next Parliamentary elections are not due until 2008.

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