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Romania's Prime Minister has replaced five ministers on Monday in a surprise move aimed at easing tensions following the referendum to impeach the country’s president.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta has reshuffled the cabinet, saying he wanted to change the government’s strategy
‘The cabinet should promote new messages of stability and clear will to push through social reforms, which should calm down tensions in the society,” Ponta said during a press conference, without elaborating further.
Politician Mircea Dusa was named as the new Interior Minister, after the former minister Ioan Rus resigned, citing political pressures in connection with the Constitutional Court's work on the referendum.
Judge Mona Pivniceru is the country’s new Justice Minister while diplomat Titus Corlatean has become the new Foreign Minister.
Public administration and parliamentary affairs heads were also replaced with politicians from the ranks of the centre-left ruling coalition, the Social Liberal Union, USL.
The cabinet reshuffle is the latest twist in a battle to oust suspended President Traian Basescu.
Although the majority of the voters in the referendum, held on July 29, were in favour of impeaching the president, the turnout of around 46 per cent was below the 50 per cent threshold needed to make it valid
The ruling coalition challenged the results, arguing that the lists of eligible voters had not been updated.
The government has announced plans to organize a so-called “mini-census” to check whether all the people on the electoral rolls really live in Romania, a plan which has been criticized by opposition parties and many independent analysts.
The Constitutional Court is due to decide on August 31 whether the referendum was valid.
Basescu was Romania’s most popular politician for a decade, but lost support over widely disliked health reforms and austerity measures that were introduced by his government.
His impeachment has divided the country, with supporters and opponents spending hours engaged in bitter verbal battles in public spaces, on the internet and on television.
The centre-left government had accused the centre-right president of exceeding his authority and of meddling in government affairs by blocking the government’s reforms.
Basescu says his adversaries are taking revenge for the corruption conviction this year of former Prime Minister, Adrian Nastase, a senior member of the governing coalition. He accused the government of attempting a “coup d’etat” not just against him but also against the judiciary.
Basescu was previously suspended in 2007 for one month, but returned to power following a popular referendum.
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