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Romanian court approves president's dismissal
Parliament's decision to suspend president has alarmed regional neighbours and will go to popular referendum.
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2012 21:59
Basescu, a centre-right politician, was sacked for assuming powers improperly in 2010 [Reuters]

Romania's constitutional court has given its approval to parliament's vote to suspend the country's president, but the ultimate will be up to a popular referendum set for July 29.  

The court appointed a member of the centre-left ruling coalition to replace the suspended president.

"The court notes that the procedure for the suspension from his duties of Romanian President Traian Basescu has been respected ... and that the function of interim president will be assured by Crin Antonescu," it ruled on Monday .

Most legal observers had anticipated this ruling for procedural reasons. On Friday, 256 of 432 deputies voted to impeach the centre-right Basescu over claims he improperly assumed the powers of the prime minister when he announced drastic austerity cuts in 2010.

The vote, and the court's ruling, mean Basescu will be suspended at least until the public can vote.

The parliamentary vote on Friday followed a series of controversial moves by Romanian legislators, including the sacking of the ombudsman and the speakers of parliament.

The situation has provoked growing alarm from fellow European Union members, the United States and rights groups.

The latest criticisms came from Germany earlier on Monday, which condemned the impeachment proceedings as "unacceptable" and a violation of democratic principles.

"The suspension of Basescu on Friday and the initiation of a referendum took place in such a way that they violated the basic principles of the rule of law and, above all, respect for constitutional institutions," German government  spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

But the court also rejected a law that limited its own power to intervene in parliamentary decisions.

The court said that objections by the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (PDL) over the legality of last week's sacking of the speakers of both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies were not admissible. Both positions were 
held by PDL members.

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