President Klaus Iohannis says the best way to put an end to the current political scandal in Romania is the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, and stands by his first option for a replacement.
The President closed a busy day in politics with an interview to the state television (TVR) on Friday.
Around noon, prosecutors of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) had announced the opening a criminal investigation against the prime minister; the President urged him to resign; Ponta refused by a message on Facebook early in the afternoon; Iohannis later claimed he had got Ponta’s private promise to consider resignation; the Liberal Opposition filed a previously announced censure motion; the Parliament was left to deal with both this motion and the official request to approve the investigation against Ponta, who is also a deputy; throughout the day, local chapters of the ruling Social Democrat Party voiced their support for the prime minister, and many of them were adamant he should keep his office.
In his interview broadcast by TVR on Friday night, the President insisted Ponta should resign and offered to consult the parliamentary parties on Monday to designate a replacement; asked whether he would nominate Liberal Catalin Predoiu, as promised in last years’ election campaign, Iohannis answered: “I tend to keep and fulfill my promises.”
He also called the deputies to take a pragmatic decision, in accordance with the political situation, on the DNA’s request to investigate their fellow MP, Victor Ponta. Romanian Parliament members cannot be prosecuted or arrested until the plenum of their respective chamber (Senate or Chamber of Deputies) votes to lift their immunity.
Iohannis also called the Parliament to refrain from changing the criminal laws during the very intense current phase of the anticorruption fight.
According to the President, the filing of the DNA’s request on the same day with the censure motion was a coincidence; he restated his confidence in DNA’s Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi and in Supreme Court Chief Justice Livia Stanciu.
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu-Tariceanu and four fellow Senators had asked for the dismissal or resignation of the two magistrates, after the acquittal of a woman indicted by Kovesi’s subordinates for allegedly blackmailing Stanciu. In his interview on Friday, President Iohannis called Popescu-Tariceanu’s move “unfortunate,” Agerpres informs.
Finally, in another topic related to the Parliament, Iohannis regretted the slow progress of the legislation for the vote by correspondence.