Romanian President Basescu Suspended from Office
The two chambers of the Romanian Parliament voted at a joint meeting to suspend the country's president, Traian Basescu, for 30 days.
After heated and long debates, a total of 258 Members of the Parliament out of 432 voted in favor of the move against center-right Basescu. 217 were needed to pass the suspension.
The President's final fate will be decided by a referendum, which must be held in the next 30 days. A simple majority will be sufficient to impeach him.
Basescu was suspended on the grounds that he had overstepped his authority by interfering in government business and legal affairs. He firmly denies the accusations and blames opponents for destabilizing Romania.
The Speaker of the Senate, Crin Antonescu, will be acting President until the referendum.
Basescu, who has been president since 2004, has recently clashed with his rival Prime Minister Victor Ponta. Basescu accuses Ponta of trying to interfere with Romania's legal and state institutions. Ponta, who heads the Social Liberal Union (USL), is himself under pressure to resign over allegations of plagiarism.
BBC notes that the political conflict between the president and prime minister has stalled decision-making processes in Romania at a time when it is finalizing agreements on an IMF-backed aid package for its economy.
The vote came as the European Union expressed concern about rule of law in the country.
Basescu survived an earlier attempt to impeach him in 2007 thanks precisely to the referendum, but his popularity among voters is strongly declining in the last 2 years.
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