Romania plans to pursue impeachment vote

By Alison Mutler ,AP

BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s governing coalition vowed to continue with a vote to impeach President Traian Basescu on Friday, as the European Union expressed concern about rule of law in the country and Germany said it had “grave doubts” about the legitimacy of the government’s measures. Senate speaker Crin Antonescu said parliament would not wait for a decision from the Constitutional Court to rule on a move to impeach Basescu, who has been accused of overstepping his authority by meddling in government and legal affairs.

The court’s decision — postponed for several hours — stopped short of making a clear ruling on the impeachment charges. It concluded that Basescu had failed to mediate “with maximum efficiency and effectiveness between the state and civil society,” but did not say whether he should be impeached or not.

Basescu, president since 2004, has denied the charges against him and says he will argue his case in Parliament on Friday.

The 60-year-old former ship’s captain is also accused of making racist remarks about Gypsies and disabled people. Basescu counters that he has the right to free speech and cannot be impeached merely for statements.

The vote will take place later Friday and its outcome is uncertain. Basescu was impeached in 2007 but survived a referendum on the issue.

The European Commission has called on the left-leaning government to respect the independence of the judiciary and rule of law, calling them “the cornerstones of European democracy” and essential for `’mutual trust” within the bloc.

A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Steffen Seibert, said Friday that Germany is wary about the coalition’s move to change the powers of the Constitutional Court, and called for its independence to be preserved.