Romanian lawmakers to investigate president for allegedly violating constitution

Romania's Parliament voted Wednesday to set up a commission to investigate allegations that President Traian Basescu has violated the constitution.

Three parties the left-wing Social Democratic Party, the nationalist Great Romania Party and the centrist Conservative Party accuse Basescu of using his position to unfairly intervene in the economy and exceeding his constitutional powers. They called for Basescu to be suspended and then removed from office.

Basescu, who has accused lawmakers of having improper ties to lobby groups, rejected charges he violated the constitution, vowing to continue to speak out when he notices wrongdoing.

"They will not have a silent president," he said after presiding at a Cabinet meeting.

Lawmakers voted 258-76 to set up the commission, which will be led by one of Basescu's main rivals, Conservative Party leader Dan Voiculescu. The commission will have to report back to parliament by March 21, and parliament then will vote on whether to impeach Basescu, who still has about a 50 percent approval rating and is Romania's most trusted politician.

"This is not about personal revenge," said Voiculescu. "We will investigate whether there are constitutional violations."

If parliament decides on impeachment, the decision needs to be approved by the majority of voting-age Romanians in a referendum, which is unlikely Basescu has been at odds both with Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, a former ally, and the opposition.

Tariceanu's Liberal Party voted in favor of setting up the commission, but its spokesman Crin Antonescu said it opposed impeachment.

Opposition lawmakers also accuse the president of sparking frequent political disputes and causing a political crisis, reports AP.

Basescu has denied that Romania, a new member of the European Union, was having a political crisis, saying that despite disagreements at the top, the government and other state institutions were functioning properly.

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