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05/12/2016

Romanian parliament calls on President to step down

Elections

Romanian parliament calls on President to step down

The People’s Palace. Bucarest. [Dan Nevill/Flickr]

Romania’s parliament yesterday (25 June) called on President Traian B?sescu to step down after his brother was arrested for accepting bribes from a mobster.

A total of 344 MPs out of 588 voted in favour of a non-binding declaration saying that B?sescu’s resignation was crucial to restore “Romania’s credibility.”

B?sescu — who has made fighting corruption a centrepiece of his leadership — has been left red-faced after both his brother and son-in-law were slapped with graft charges.

Seventeen lawmakers abstained from Wednesday’s vote while MPs from two centre-right parties backing B?sescu did not take part.

“President B?sescu can no longer guarantee the prestige, the independence and the legitimacy of the presidential office,” lawmakers said.

“That is why we urge him to resign immediately,” they added, blasting the implication of the president’s brother in an “extremely serious graft case.”

But B?sescu has already ruled out standing down, saying he was determined to pursue his term “to the last day.”

His term comes to an end after a presidential election in November.

The president’s younger brother Mircea was taken into custody on Friday accused of taking a €250,000 bribe to intercede on behalf of a crime boss, Sandu Anghel, on trial for attempted murder.

>> Read: B?sescu urged to resign over alleged family bribe-taking

Anti-graft prosecutors allege he used his ties to the president to convince Anghel that he could get the charges dropped. Anghel was ultimately sentenced to eight years and nine months in jail by the Supreme Court in May.

B?sescu told a press conference on Monday he had never interfered in judiciary proceedings and denied any knowledge of the bribes.

To add to his woes it emerged this week his lawyer son-in-law Radu Pricop was being probed for the alleged use of forged documents to obtain multi-million-euro damages for property seized under Romania’s former Communist regime.