Romania PM Nominates New Head of Anti-Corruption Office

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta nominated a former general prosecutor to head the country’s anti-corruption department over the objections of a junior member of his ruling coalition.

Laura Codruta Kovesi was picked to head the anti-corruption agency and Tiberiu Nitu to take the position of general prosecutor, Ponta said in an e-mailed statement today. The head of the Liberal Party called the move Ponta’s “first mistake,” though he stopped short of saying it would break apart the four-party coalition.

“I think I did the right thing for the government and for the political stability of the country,” Ponta said in a televised speech before a government meeting today. The proposals must be endorsed by the Superior Council of Magistrates and by President Traian Basescu.

The European Commission has urged Romania, the bloc’s second-poorest member after Bulgaria, to increase the pace of reforms to keep the judiciary independence. Germany will veto Romania’s and Bulgaria’s entry to the passport-free Schengen travel zone because of concerns over corruption, Spiegel reported March 3.

“As far as this decision is concerned, our roads diverge because we can’t be part of a political compromise between Basescu and Ponta,” said Crin Antonescu, the head of the Liberals today. “The coalition will not break up because we have a responsibility toward our voters and our partnership is based on a joint plan for Romania.”

Antonescu had said on March 3 that the governing alliance may break apart if Ponta nominates Kovesi as “the appointment would be a mistake both from a judicial and political point of view.”

Ponta is counting on a two-thirds majority in Parliament after his Social Democrats entered a coalition with the Liberals ahead of parliamentary elections in December last year.

Nitu, 41, was a deputy general prosecutor from 2007 until 2011 and Kovesi, 39, has been a general prosecutor from 2006 to 2012.

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