UNPR has new leader

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MP Valeriu Steriu was elected national leader of the National Union for Romania’s Progress (UNPR) at the party’s National Conference on Saturday in Bucharest.

Steriu won 339 votes, while the other two candidates, Senators Iulian Cristache and Ioan Iovescu, got 22 and 5 votes, respectively. Four votes were annulled.

Steriu said his mission is to bring the party to rule and turn it into a core for any political coalitions.”I don’t want us to be anyone’s partners (…) Our goal should not be a targeted party; it should be more important and it should not miss from ruling,” UNPR new head stressed.

The UNPR National Convention was held in the absence of Gabriel Oprea, the founder of the party who resigned UNPR chairmanship on March 3, 2016 amidst legal controversies, as well as in the absence of another leader o mark, Neculai Ontanu, the suspended District 2 mayor, placed on pre-trial detention for corruption charges several days ago.

However, the Progressives’ convention elected Gabriel Oprea as the founding chairman of UNPR following a unanimous amendment of the party’s statutes.

Several UNPR officials praised Oprea and Neculai Ontanu, the party’s acting national chairman after Oprea’s resignation, the two former leaders also getting repeated rounds of applause from the attendees.

“Mr Ontanu, we love you (…) and we need you here with us,” said UNPR leader Gheorghe Bica.

UNPR was officially launched on May 1, 2010 as a breakaway from the Social Democratic Party (PSD) upon the initiative of then PSD member Gabriel Oprea.

Former Interior minister Gabriel Oprea resigned from the position of UNPR chairman a month ago in a letter he sent to the UNPR members. “(…) For the future chairman my option is Valeriu Steriu, whose professionalism is acknowledged by all parties. Of course, the decision is to be taken by the party’s forums, but I consider that I have the right and obligation to tell the team which is my recommendation (…) It was an honour to be your colleague and to lead UNPR,” read Oprea’s letter.

Valeriu Steriu, 50, is a graduate of the Polytechnic Institute, with a degree in machine-tool engineering. He also holds a doctor’s degree in agricultural sciences and attended postgraduate classes in national security and defence according to his resume posted on the website of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies.

Steriu is a second-time MP, while in 2001-2004 he was a secretary of state for European integration and international affairs with Romania’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The new UNPR chairman was a PSD member until 2010, when he resigned to join the newly established Oprea’s party.

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