On Wednesday, the first meeting of the committee of inquiry into the presidential elections of 2009 featured disputes between the ruling power and the opposition over the presence of alternate members at its meetings, with PSD and ALDE vehemently opposing the idea, and PNL, USR and PMP asking for the meetings to be open to alternate members too, considering the complexity of the case discussed. The committee’s leadership also decided that all meetings will take place behind closed doors.
The meeting started at noon, some of the full members of the committee being absent, for various reasons, but being replaced by alternate members. UDMR had no representatives at this first meeting. On the other hand, USR came at the meeting with both its full and alternate members of the committee. Committee Chairman Mihai Fifor (PSD) asked the latter to leave the room.
The decision sparked a wave of reactions from the opposition, which asked for alternate members to be present too, at least at the first meeting that was set to discuss administrative issues, so that they could be up-to-date with the discussions.
Lower Chamber lawmaker Robert Turcescu (PMP) stated that the “episodic” nature of this committee also calls for the presence of all members, including alternate members, even without the latter having the right to vote, so that alternate members could be able to follow events without losing information.
“This being a committee of inquiry, considering that the action will take place episodically, I believe it’s appropriate for alternate members to be present, in order for them to know, from one meeting to the next – if the full member is missing –, what was discussed in previous meetings,” Turcescu said.
Adrian Tutuianu (PSD) and Eugen Nicolicea (PSD) nevertheless invoked the decision on setting up the committee, which stipulates that alternate members take part and have the right to vote in meetings if the full members are absent. The opposition countered by stating that the stipulations do not ban the alternate members’ presence as observers.
“I believe you should bring your replacements to the plenum meetings too, considering that each list of Lower Chamber lawmakers has alternate members too. If they should be here, we’ll extend this to the plenum; once the plenum approves that two or three more [lawmakers] should sleep next to Mr Gotiu, then we too will approve their presence here,” Nicolicea sarcastically stated.
The disputes lasted around 40 minutes, at which point the press was asked to leave the room for the talks to continue.
The committee’s leadership also decided that the meetings will be secret, without access for the press. The chairman of the committee will make statements for the press at the end of the meetings, but only optionally.
The joint plenum of the Lower Chamber and Senate approved last Thursday, by 241 to 86 votes, the setting up of a committee of inquiry into the way the presidential elections of 2009 were organised and unfolded.
Also approved was the membership of the parliamentary committee of inquiry: Mihai Fifor (committee chairman), Adrian Tutuianu, Dorel Caprar, Mihai Weber, Adrian Plesoianu, Oana Florea, Eugen Nicolicea (all from PSD), Steluta Cataniciu (ALDE), Cezar Preda, Vasile Varga, Daniel Fenechiu (all from PNL), Mihai Gotiu, Eduard Dirca (both from USR), Robert Turcescu (PMP) and Antal Istvan (UDMR).
Last Wednesday, the Judiciary Committees of the Senate and the Lower Chamber adopted the report on the draft parliamentary decision to set up a commission of inquiry into the presidential elections of 2009, its new form containing an amendment meant to avoid an overlap between the committee’s objectives and the objectives of the criminal probe that the Prosecutor General’s Office has started.
The committees’ report was adopted with 16 votes in favour, nine against and one abstention. The main modification brought was an amendment proposed by Lower Chamber Judiciary Committee Chairman Eugen Nicolicea (PSD), which stipulates that the members of the committee of inquiry will not investigate the elements that generated the suspicions of abuse of office and forgery that triggered the Prosecutor General Office’s criminal probe.
Andronic, Geoana, Hrebenciuc, Blaga and Opris called before committee of inquiry into 2009 presidential elections
PSD Senator Mihai Fifor (photo), chairman of the committee of inquiry into the presidential elections of 2009, announced on Wednesday that Dan Andronic, Mircea Geoana, Viorel Hrebenciuc, former Standing Electoral Authority (AEP) President Ana Maria Patru and Special Telecommunications Service (STS) Director Marcel Opris are among the persons who have been invited for hearings next week, with Traian Basescu, Gabriel Oprea and the persons who attended the dinner he hosted on the evening of the 2009 presidential runoff set to be invited later on.
“Next week, we plan to work on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We’re already starting to issue invitations for hearings to a series of persons, at the colleagues’ proposal, persons involved in what happened in 2009. Thus, on Monday, the committee will work from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the first guest will be Mr Dan Andronic, because my colleagues considered that’s where the whole story started from; consequently, we find it natural for him to be present before the committee in order to pick up again the story he presented publicly too,” Mihai Fifor stated.
“To be able to outline a framework for the documents that were issued back then, we’ll invite before the committee Ms Ana Maria Patru, president of the AEP at the time, accompanied by the vice presidents of the AEP. On Tuesday, we’ll work from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.; I agreed with my colleagues to hear Mr Mircea Geoana, presidential candidate at the time, Mr Dan Sova, and Mr Viorel Hrebenciuc, who was head of PSD’s elections campaign,” the PSD Senator explained.
Among others, STS Director Marcel Opris and Vasile Blaga, who was Interior Minister at the time of the presidential elections of 2009, will be heard next Wednesday.
“On Wednesday, [we’ll work] from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and we’ll invite Mr Vasile Blaga, Interior Minister at the time, accompanied by the two secretaries of state at the time – for public order Mr Marian Tutilescu and for prefectures, involved in organising the elections campaign, Mr Mihai Capra. And, at the same time, we’ll ask General Marcel Opris to come before the committee,” the chairman of the committee of inquiry added.
Mihai Fifor claimed that “all those involved in the 2009 events will be invited before the committee,” including Gabriel Oprea.
“Depending on how things go, we’ll definitely ask for documents needed to back the things said by our guests; depending on the requests of my colleagues, depending on the needs that the committee has to consolidate information obtained as a result of the hearings, we’ll definitely demand documents,” Mihai Fifor pointed out.
Asked whether Vasile Dincu will also be called before the committee, the Social Democrat said the moment will come to call before the committee those who were present at the dinner hosted by Gabriel Oprea. “That’s precisely why we wanted to first meet Mr Dan Andronic, in order to pick up again the line of his narrative and to identify the persons we should invite to hearings in the upcoming period,” Mihai Fifor concluded, News.ro informs.
USR challenges way committee of inquiry works: It started off on the wrong foot, PSD-ALDE are trying to render it secret
The USR members of the committee of inquiry into the presidential elections of 2009 are challenging the way the committee will work and are accusing the ruling power of trying to render its meetings and information “secret” by not allowing the press at its meetings and not allowing its members to speak publicly about the hearings.
“This commission has started off on the wrong foot, because it’s a contradiction. On one hand, its stated objective is to eventually find out the truth about what happened in the 2009 elections, but to our surprise it’s a committee that is trying to render secret as much of what is being discussed as possible, as much of what will be the result of this committee,” USR Senator Mihai Gotiu stated at the end of the committee’s first meeting.
He pointed out that the opposition asked that the press be allowed to attend the committee’s meetings, except for those discussing classified information or documents, but the proposal was rejected in an 8-6 vote. Gotiu said that the proposal to post on the website of the Lower Chamber and the Senate information regarding the committee’s proceedings was also rejected.
The Senator also challenges the fact that the committee’s regulations forbid its members to make public statements about the committee’s proceedings.
“There is also a very strange article, which stipulates that the members of the committee cannot make public statements and this sounds very vague. (…) I believe it’s a bit contradictory to want to set up a committee that intends to find out the truth and you’re trying to classify what’s happening within that committee,” he said.
The USR leader stated that the ruling power rejected most of USR’s proposals, particularly those concerning those invited before the committee and the order in which they will be heard.
“The members of the ruling coalition imposed their proposals and what they had planned, the order in which they were voted; they exercised their majority several times throughout this day in order to reject the amendments we proposed,” Gotiu stated.
USR Lower Chamber lawmaker Edward Dirca levelled similar criticism.
“[PSD and ALDE] had a hidden agenda. We found ourselves before documents that were already on the table, they hadn’t been given to us before. We were forced to study and amend the Regulations on the first reading. They didn’t make concessions in what concerns the manner and the list of guests set to be scheduled. (…) They rejected most of the amendments we proposed,” he said.