Negotiations resumed in the ruling coalition following fruitless first round

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The first round of talks in the ruling coalition after Vlad Voiculescu’s dismissal from the Health Ministry ended on Monday evening after five fruitless hours. Negotiations are to be resumed today at 4 p.m.
PM Citu stands on, saying he is waiting for USR-PLUS to nominate a new Health minister. “Romania needs to be governed. I expect the nomination for the Health Ministry”, Citu told Digi24.
“Romania must be governed, at this moment the best option for Romania is this governing coalition. I am still waiting for the nomination of the Minister of Health, the portfolio belongs to USR PLUS, because we have to manage this pandemic, it is still a difficult situation. I maintain the position I mentioned this morning: the only solution for Romania today is a governing coalition, this governing coalition,” Florin Citu said.
On the other side, deputy PM and USR-PLUS co-chairman Dan Barna said at the end of the first round of talks that he has hope “a decision is to be reached in a way or another as soon as possible”.

In his turn, UDMR leader, Kelemen Hunor, stated that this coalition will move forward and that discussions will continue on Tuesday. “I am convinced we’ll find the best solution for each side. We cannot afford higher tensions after 4 months”, the UDMR chair said. Asked if they need President Iohannis’ intervention in the coalition crisis, Kelemen replied: “There is no need, the coalition can handle it”.

Sources from the negotiations told mass media that USR-PLUS had come with the same request to replace Florin Citu from the helm of the Cabinet, but they had met the firm opposition of their coalition partners, PNL and UDMR.

Liberals stood firmly on their initial stance, that changing the premier is out the question. The PM and the Liberals would have also denied USR-PLUS requests on future rules to be enforced to replace a minister.

“There were a few hours of talks with every partner presented its stances and arguments, PNL still endorses Florin Cit as PM, we presented the arguments for which he lost our endorsement. During this first round of talks we analysed the hypotheses and working scenarios based on which we will be able to reach a decision in a way or another as quickly as possible”, Barna said on Monday evening.

However, today, several hours before the second round of negotiations, USR-PLUS seems to take a step back on “not endorsing” PM Citu anymore.

The leader of USR PLUS deputies, Ionuț Moșteanu told RFI that Florin Citu remaining in office “may be an option”.

Asked if the alliance might give up the request on PM Citu’s dismissal, Moșteanu replied: “There is this possibility, if we manage to set up the coalition on new grounds“. He argued that “additional documents” are mandatory to be added to the ruling coalition protocol, particularly related to the manner to dismiss a minister.

 Political sources told journalists that USR PLUS would intend to drop the request to dismiss the prime minister and would want instead to sign a political agreement to include several operating rules of the Coalition. More precisely, they want ministers, and the PM included, to be assessed within the coalition by mutual agreement.

Another prerequisite of USR PLUS is that a reform programme should be put on paper and it should include clearly defined deadlines.

USR PLUS would also want a weekly consultation between PM Citu and deputy PM Barna.

On the other camp, the Liberals are also willing to end the conflict, but they seem less willing to give in the provision on the PM’s constitutional rights, invoked when PM Citu sacked Vlad Voiculescu.

“I agree to having talks, protocols, as long as I preserve my constitutional powers. It is very clear one cannot negotiate the Constitution“, Citu had told Digi 24 on Monday evening.

Sources quoted above revealed that behind closed doors on Monday evening, Florin Citu would have told USR PLUS partners that he can provide a 48-hour respite before dismissing a minister, a period during which USR PLUS might determine their minister either to quit or to withdraw political support for him.

PM Citu would have told USR PLUS that he won’t agree a protocol to cut his powers.

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