Tuesday, September 29, 2009

AP: Romania interior minister fired over fraud comment

Romania's Prime Minister Emil Boc on Monday fired the country's interior minister for speculating there could be fraud in upcoming elections.

The move could upend the country's already tense two-party coalition government.Boc, a Democratic Liberal, said he fired Nica because of his allegations last week that there could be fraud in November elections, comments that were widely interpreted as an accusation that Boc's party might try to cheat to get President Traian Basescu re-elected.

Nica's ministry organizes and oversees the poll, and his Social Democratic Party will back a rival candidate.Nica would be the third interior minister to leave the post in less than ten months.

The Social Democrats on Monday threatened to withdraw its ministers in protest against the decision, a move that would cause the coalition government to collapse.

Social Democrat spokesman Bogdan Niculescu-Duvaz gave Boc 24 hours to reconsider Nica's firing, saying Romania did not need political tensions at a time of economic recession."This firing is an attack that throws Romania into an unprecedented political crisis," Nica said.

Relations between the two parties in the coalition have been tense ever since they came to power in December 2008.The interior ministry is one of the country's most powerful because it controls a controversial domestic intelligence agency. It is led by a Social Democrat according to an agreement made when the coalition was formed.The first interior minister to leave the post, Gabriel Oprea, was fired in a dispute with his party over the man he appointed to be head of a domestic intelligence agency. The second minister, Liviu Dragnea, said he resigned over a lack of funding for his ministry.

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