Romanian President Traian Basescu faces impeachment

image copyrightAFP
image captionPresident Traian Basescu is widely associated with unpopular austerity measures

Romania's president faces impeachment after the governing coalition called for him to be suspended.

Centre-right President Traian Basescu has been at loggerheads with Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who heads the opposing Social Liberal Union (USL), which has a majority in parliament.

If parliament votes for Mr Basecu's suspension, a national poll on his impeachment can follow.

Mr Ponta himself is under pressure to resign over allegations of plagiarism.

The USL party has asked parliament to hold an extraordinary meeting to suspend Mr Basescu, a party member told a Romanian news agency.

Mr Ponta's USL party passed a law to simplify the process of having the president impeached. That law still needs to be considered by the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court itself has accused Mr Ponta of trying to dismantle it, and on Tuesday complained to the European Commission that he was threatening the court's independence.

The USL, in power since May, says that the court is heavily influenced by Mr Basescu, whose popularity has dropped since he imposed austerity measures agreed with the EU and IMF in 2010.

The political conflict between the president and prime minister has stalled decision-making processes in Romania at a time when it is finalising agreements on an IMF-backed aid package for its economy.

Mr Basescu has accused Mr Ponta of trying to interfere with Romania's legal and state institutions in order to secure his indictment.

On Tuesday the US ambassador to Romania, Mark Gitenstein, expressed deep concerns about any attempts to affect state institutions.

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