Row within PNL: Andrei Chiliman removed from helm of PNL Bucharest

District 1 mayor is considering resignation from PNL.

District 1 mayor Andrei Chiliman announced yesterday evening, during a press conference, that he is considering resigning from the National Liberal Party (PNL). He stressed that during the latest years he had built the strongest liberal branch in Bucharest and that PNL has more than 40 per cent in the Capital. Chiliman criticized the decision adopted Monday morning to replace him at the helm of PNL Bucharest branch, claiming it was a political-motivated decision. “We are thus destroying the strongest branch of PNL. The decision has no legal basis. Party president Crin Antonescu did not deliver any explanation for this decision, because he did not have one. I can manage the electoral campaign, even Mr. Antonescu’s campaign,” Chiliman said.Chiliman also stressed the above mentioned decision is an unexpected gift for the ruling power parties. “I am calling on Mr. Antonescu to assume responsibility form the decision. I am taking into consideration very seriously the resignation from PNL. I am with this party for twenty years, but I owe something to the people of the PNL Bucharest branch, to the people of Bucharest, to the senior personalities with PNL. I will adopt this decision after I will talk with these people,” Chiliman underlined on Monday evening.PNL President Crin Antonescu confirmed yesterday at noon what had previously been only a rumor: the fact that he replaced District 1 Mayor and President of PNL’s Bucharest branch Andrei Chiliman, as well as Dan Cristian Popescu (leader of the District 2 branch) and Geani Dinu (leader of the District 4 branch). Thus, the party’s National Executive Council confirmed yesterday the Central Political Bureau’s decision to replace Chiliman with former Health Minister Eugen Nicolaescu, Cristian Popescu with Adrian Neascu, and Geani Dinu with Daniel Chitoiu. Also yesterday, Mariana Campeanu was appointed Vice President of PNL Bucharest, Neacsu being appointed in District 2. Political sources claim that Antonescu wanted to remove Chiliman a long time ago, perceiving him as a person close to former PNL President Calin Popescu Tariceanu.

According to Antonescu, the Council took the three decisions with a wide majority. For example, 36 of the 47 party branch leaders that attended the National Executive Council’s meeting yesterday voted in favor of replacing Chiliman. Only 8 voted against the proposal, while 3 votes were declared null. Antonescu also confirmed the rumors according to which the decision was caused by problems in the negotiation of USL candidacies in Bucharest, adding that his top priority has to be the District 1 Mayoralty. Antonescu did not want to reveal the accusations brought against Chiliman on Monday within PNL’s leadership bodies. Nevertheless, he pointed out that the interim leadership of PNL Bucharest, consisting of Eugen Nicolaescu and Mariana Campeanu, will help finalize the negotiations over the list of USL candidates for Bucharest’s district mayoralties. The PNL leader also pointed out that the two were chosen to lead PNL Bucharest because they do not belong to any “faction” within the party. Antonescu pointed out that he has some personal reasons to be dissatisfied with Chiliman, however he prefers discussing them with him “face to face.” The Liberal leader also announced yesterday that USL will establish and announce the final list of local elections candidates in Bucharest in the week after the Easter holidays. “It’s likely that the final decision will be taken during the week after Easter, when we will meet with a clean soul and will inform you of the result of our love,” Antonescu stated sarcastically.

Explanations and reactions

According to gandul.info, Chiliman is accused of sabotaging the negotiations between PNL and PSD in District 6. Negotiations over district mayoralties came to a halt within USL when it came to nominating candidates for District 2 and District 6. PSD insisted that PNL should nominate a candidate for District 2 so that it can nominate one for District 6. The Liberals however did not want to give up their candidate in District 6, Crin Antonescu backing Rares Manescu. During the negotiations, PNL President Crin Antonescu told PSD in no uncertain terms that he does not back Cristian Popescu for the District 2 Mayoralty. Cristian Popescu has already printed posters that present him as the USL candidate. The banners state that he is “guaranteed” by former PNL President Calin Popescu Tariceanu. He stated yesterday for gandul.info that he will remove the banners and will back the USL candidate for the mayoralty. “But I won’t back Neculai Ontanu if he is proposed by USL,” the former President of PNL’s District 2 branch warned. Political sources recently stated for the press that District 2 Mayor Neculai Ontanu (former PSD member, currently UNPR’s Secretary General) will run for another term in office as an USL candidate.Former PNL First Vice-President Ludovic Orban, currently an MP, stated for Mediafax that the decision to replace Andrei Chiliman is profoundly unjust, being of the opinion that such a measure will affect the party’s performance in the elections in Bucharest. “I’m shocked. I can’t find a plausible explanation for this decision,” Orban stated.

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