Liviu Dragnea remains president of the Social Democratic Party/Fresh indictments in the August 10th anti-government protest case
POLITICS - Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, the main partner in the ruling coalition in Romania, was confirmed on Friday as president of the party, after winning a vote of confidence held during a special meeting of the leadership. On the occasion, Dragnea announced that a new meeting of the party's leadership will be held in October, when a potential reshuffle might be on the agenda. Friday's meeting was held after a few top-level members signed an open letter requesting the resignation of Liviu Dragnea as president of the party and as speaker of the Chamber of Deputies. The authors of the letter claimed, among other things, that Dragnea's legal problems had turned into a major weakness for the party, particularly considering the forthcoming European Parliament and presidential elections due in 2019 and local and legislative elections scheduled for 2020. The signatories also requested that PM Viorica Dǎncilă, the executive president of the Social Democratic Party, should act as interim president until the next special congress of the party.
INDICTMENT - The chief of the Romanian Gendarme Forces, col. Ionuţ Cătălin Sindile, and senior deputy chief col. Gheorghe Sebastian Cucoş, were indicted on Friday in relation to the anti-governmental protest of August 10th in Bucharest. They are investigated for complicity to abuse of office. Major Laurenţiu Cazan, the chief of the Bucharest Gendarme Directorate, and chief commissioner Mihai Dan Chirică, secretary of state with the Interior Ministry are also indicted in this case. Also on Friday, the main opposition parties called for the resignation of the four and also of the interior minister Carmen Dan. We recall that during the August 10th protests violent clashes took place between the participants and the gendarmes, and the latter used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds. Military prosecutors started a criminal investigation into the gendarme intervention. As many as 770 people filed criminal complaints. The interior minister Carmen Dan has recently stated that the protest was approached as an event posing risks to public order, and that the gendarme intervention was lawful.
INITIATIVE - the Save Romania Union opposition party filed in Parliament on Friday some 450,000 signatures in support for the initiative titled "No convicts in public offices", so the total number of such signatures now stands at 780,000. According to a communiqué issued by the party, the initiative has complied with the two requirements imposed by the law: more than 500,000 valid signatures and at least 20,000 signatures in 21 counties. According to this initiative, art 37 of the Constitution would include an addition, reading that individuals with final sentences cannot hold offices in the local governments, in the Chamber of Deputies and Senate or the office of president of the country, until the consequences of the respective sentence are removed.
PENSIONS - The Government of Romania has discussed a new pension bill with representatives of trade unions and employer associations. This was the first 3-party meeting on the topic, organised in line with a special calendar agreed on for the endorsement of this law. PM Viorica Dăncilă says the new pension law will first and foremost address inequities in the public system. While the deputy president of the Romanian Employers Association Dan Matei Aghaton announced the organisation supports the new bill, the trade union leader Bogdan Hossu pointed out that some aspects, such as special working conditions, unfair employee penalties, and minimum wage increases, will have to be regulated by means of further pieces of legislation.
ADOPTIONS - The Government of Romania has earmarked additional funds for child protection and has taken measures to encourage adoption. The goal is to step up the procedure for and extend the period in which a child is regarded as adoptable, and to reduce red tape in the field. New financial incentives have also been introduced. The adoption process in Romania is rather complex, and the country ranks among the last in Europe with only 800 adoptions per year, although the number of abandoned children is around 55,000.
MEDAL - Princess Margareta, Custodian of the Crown of Romania, on Friday awarded the "Nihil Sine Deo" royal decoration to the US Ambassador to Bucharest Hans Klemm. Just like the King Michael I Loyalty Medal and the Cross of the Royal House of Romania, 'Nihil Sine Deo' is granted by decision of the chief of the Royal House. It was introduced in 2009 and it may be granted to leading social, scientific, educational, cultural, spiritual, economic, political and military personalities. The medal can also be awarded to Romanian or foreign current and former ambassadors having made a noteworthy contribution to Romania's international relations.
MEASLES - 85 new cases of measles have been confirmed in Romania this week, according to the National Center of Infectious Disease Surveillance and Control. Most cases were reported in unvaccinated children. In all, the number of confirmed cases has exceeded 15,500, of which 59 have been fatal. Measles is an infectious disease that often causes complications.
BUCHAREST - This weekend, the Days of the City of Bucharest will be marking 559 years since the Romanian capital was first mentioned in official records, as well as 100 years since the Union of December 1, 1918, when Romanian provinces were united into a nation state. Major international musicians were invited to perform in the city, including pan flute player Gheorghe Zamfir on Friday and pop-rock star Rod Stewart on Sunday. On Saturday, the world's best multimedia artists will display spectacular light and laser shows on the walls of the Parliament Palace. A symphonic concert and multimedia show opened the Bucharest Days series on Thursday night, when the fountains in the Union Square were reopened, after extensive revamping works. Built in the late '80s under the communist regime, the fountain system downtown Bucharest is one of the longest in the world, 1.4 km, with 16,200 m² water surface area.