After the first dissensions erupting on Wednesday between USR-PLUS and the Liberal PM Florin Citu on the “Anghel Saligny” funding programme, the prime minister decided to dismiss Justice minister Stelian Ion, accusing him of not giving his notice on the “Anghel Saligny” draft resolution and of not completing his projects in the ministry.
Florin Citu sent President Klaus Iohannis the request for the dismissal of Justice Minister Stelian Ion from Government on Wednesday evening. The President has signed the dismissal decree few hours later. The Interior minister Lucian Bode has been named interim Justice minister.
“I took a necessary decision. I sent the President of Romania the request for the removal from office of Justice Minister Stelian Ion,” PM Citu said.
“I will not accept in the Government of Romania ministers who oppose the country’s modernization. As a minister, Stelian Ion has failed to assert himself in the coalition, he failed to carry his projects through. For instance, the abolition of the Section for the Investigation of Judicial Crimes has still not been dismantled even after eight months since Stelian Ion has been in office,” the PM told a press statement at the Victoria Palace of Government.
Citu added that “blocking the government’s activity just because one doesn’t agree to develop communities” is a violation of the mandate entrusted by Parliament through the governing program, and that he will not allow “the blackmailing” of the Romanian people.
“I no longer accept in the government anyone who resorts to blackmail, anyone who doesn’t understand that we are not talking here about mayors, but about communities and the benefit of citizens’ We need to develop Romania. Just because our USR PLUS coalition colleagues don’t have many mayors doesn’t mean that the Romanians have to suffer. I take full responsibility for this decision. The PNL National Political Bureau has assumed this investment project, which is not PNDL 3. It’s a dedicated road paving, water & sewage and gas project. It is the symbol of Romania’s modernization after 30 years,” Citu added.
“I want our coalition partners from USR PLUS to have the wisdom and responsibility not to choose to withdraw from the government, as they have been announcing via various channels since this morning. This coalition is bound to deliver reforms for Romanians. I assure you that this government carries on and that we will overcome this moment as well, because the public interest, the interest of the Romanians is above the interest of a politician,” the Prime Minister concluded.
PM Citu has asked USR-PLUS to nominate another person for the Justice portfolio, but USR-PLUS won’t give up Stelian Ion, while insisting on asking Citu to resign.
However, the former PNL leader Ludovic Orban, Florin Citu’s competitor for the party’s top position, stands apart from Citu in the crisis, accusing that the departure of any party from the ruling Coalition “leaves Romania at PSD’s mercy”.
Orban also said that he will not attend the PNL leadership meeting summoned by the Citu’s camp, arguing he was not informed or consulted in this regard.
Orban called on PM Citu and his supporters to “understand the gravity of the moment” and “to not blow the Coalition up. “I must have a serious talk to PM Florin Citu”, Orban said. He said he was informed by SMS about Stelian Ion’s dismissal , just two minutes before the PM’s announcement. He commented that “when you are in a coalition you cannot do only what you want”.
USR-PLUS fires back, to back censure motion against PM Citu
In retort, the Save Romania Union – Freedom, Unity and Solidarity Party (USR PLUS) alliance announced it is withdrawing its political endorsement of Prime Minister Florin Citu, reproaching him he “has thrown the country into political crisis.”
“USR PLUS has not agreed with and will never agree to public money robbery, in any form of government. We are asking the coalition to take note of the lack of a majority to support the Citu Cabinet and demanding the urgent start of negotiations inside the coalition for the appointment of a new prime minister. In the event that the coalition talks fail to come up with a proposal for a new prime minister, USR PLUS will back a motion of censure against the Citu Government,” reads a press statement released by USR PLUS.
According to the statement, Stelian Ion is the USR PLUS nomination for the Justice minister office in the future government.
“Minister Stelian Ion is the USR PLUS nomination for the future government and has all our support to continue the judiciary reform, including the abolition of the Special judiciary section for Investigating Magistrates and the appointments of chief prosecutors, all interrupted by Prime Minister Citu’s irresponsibility,” USR PLUS argues.
The alliance’s National Bureau decided to convene their Political Committee on September 11.
The USR-PLUS co-chairs Dan Barna and Dacian Ciolos took tough stances against PM Citu last evening after the latter’s sudden decision to sacks JusMin Stelian Ion.
Dan Barna said that Florin Citu “must step down”.
„Florin Cițu proved this evening that he cannot lead anything, less a Cabinet. The abuse of power, the decisions taken at night like thieves are not Liviu Dragnea’s trademark. And Florin Citu showed his is worse than Dragnea. For he is cynically and maliciously cheating the expectations of the voters who asked for something else. Florin Citu must step down”, Barna posted on Facebook.
In his turn, co-chairman Dacian Ciolos said on Facebook that the PM “had sacked with no reason the second USR-PLUS minister” and that “this is no longer a coalition government”.
“The promise made to the Liberal mayors (not to the Romanian citizens, as the PM said) is more important than the stability and the continuity of the Coalition.
Florin Citu sacks the second USR PLUS minister with no reason, subordinating the entire Cabinet to the PNL’s interests. The abuse is not that Stelian Ion had not given his opinion in five days (on the “Anghel Saligny” project), but that the premier is putting pressures on a Justice minister to give a favourable opinion on that draft bill,” Ciolos stated.
It is the second time this year since the establishment of the current ruling coalition with PNL, USR-PLUS and UDMR that USR-PLUS is at odds with the Liberals and the PM Citu. The first time USR-PLUS asked for Florin Citu to step down from the PM office was when the premier dismissed Vlad Voiculescu from the position of Health Minister in April.