Constitutional Court: Prolonging the Army Chief of Staff’s term is unconstitutional

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The prolongation of the term of the Army Chief of Staff, Nicolae Ciuca by the President of Romania, by up to one year, is unconstitutional, the Constitutional Court judges have ruled on Tuesday.

The decision comes although the head of state has won in court the reinstatement of General Nicolae Ciuca as Army Chief of Staff.

At the beginning of May, the Bucharest Court of Appeal notified the Constitutional Court about an exception of unconstitutionality of an article in the Law on the Organization and Functioning of the Defence Ministry. It is the article regulating the appointment of the Chief of Staff, reports.

The referral to the CCR was decided given the lawsuit in which the Ministry of National Defence requests the annulment of the decree signed by President Klaus Iohannis prolonging the mandate of the Army Chief Staff Nicolae Ciucă, a lawsuit the head of state has won.

This article was declared unconstitutional on Tuesday.

According to the article, “the Army Chief of Staff is the military with the highest rank in the army, appointed by the President of Romania, upon the proposal of the Minister of National Defence, with the Prime Minister’s positive opinion, for a period of 4 years, with the possibility of prolongation by up to one year. In the Chief of Staff position may be appointed the deputy or one of the chiefs of the armed forces’ categories.”

The Constitutional Court has decided, unanimously, that the phrase “with the possibility of prolongation by up to one year” is unconstitutional. The CCR judges argue that the phrase “is unclear and violates the provisions of article 1, paragraph 5 of the Constitution, as it does not provide the conditions and the procedure to follow in order to prolong the Army Chief of Staff’s term,” a CCR release reads.

CCR also underlines that “it is for the legislator to clarify these issues”, so the article will have to be amended by Parliament.

President Klaus Iohannis signed on December 28, 2018 the decree extending the mandate of General Nicolae Ciuca as Chief of Staff after he had denied during the CSAT sitting the proposal of the Defence Minister to replace Ciuca. Defence Minister Gabriel Les had proposed Dumitru Scarlat to take over the helm of the General Staff of the Armed Forces.

President Klaus Iohannis won the lawsuit in court for the reinstatement of General Nicolae Ciuca as the Army Chief of Staff after the Court of Appeal admitted the Presidential Administration’s appeal on April 10 and cancelled Ciuca’s suspension.

Romanian President had also won the lawsuit against the Defence Ministry on March 29 after the Defence ministry’s court action against the head of state was rejected.

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