Monday, July 9, 2012

omanian Court Clears President's Impeachment

Romania's top court on Monday cleared the way for a national referendum on whether to remove the country's president from office, despite criticism from European and U.S. officials fearful that democratic checks and balances are under threat.

On Friday, the Romanian parliament voted by a wide margin to impeach President Traian Basescu, saying he had overstepped his constitutional authority—the latest round in a bruising political battle between the right-leaning Mr. Basescu and the country's new leftist prime minister, Victor Ponta.

"These decisions definitely prove that all democratic and constitutional rules have been respected," Mr. Ponta said Monday night.

Critics of Mr. Ponta at home and abroad, however, have objected to a series of steps taken ahead of the vote—including firing the state's independent ombudsman and changing a law on referendums—that make it easier to oust the president.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Monday used unusually strong language to condemn the impeachment process, saying it is "unacceptable when a European Union country infringes the fundamental principles of rule of law." Read More