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Romania minister 'delaying anti-corruption appointment to dodge presidential veto'

Romania minister 'delaying anti-corruption appointment to dodge presidential veto'
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Romania’s justice minister is stalling for time in appointing the country’s next anti-corruption chief in a bid to clear opposition for the government's preferred candidate, it’s been claimed.

Laura Kovesi was controversially sacked as head of Romania’s anti-corruption directorate (DNA) earlier this month.

The hunt for her successor began swiftly but after just four applications the Ministry of Justice has admitted it will now re-launch the process.

But Bianca Toma, a researcher at the Romania Center for European Policies, alleged it was part of a delaying tactic.

A new law could come in later this year that would see Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, have his powers to veto the appointment reduced.

“One of the goals of the justice minister [Tudorel Toader] is to postpone as much as he can in order to have the president out of the procedure.

“Having the president out [of the way] means the appointment will become more politicised, which is a problem definitely.”

Iohannis has praised the DNA’s record of fighting corruption in the country, in contrast to Toader who called for Kovesi’s resignation earlier this year because “she had exceeded her authority”.

Romania is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the EU but has been praised in recent years for its efforts in cracking down on the problem.

During Kovesi’s tenure prosecutors secured a spate of convictions against MPs, ministers and mayors, exposing conflicts of interest, abuse of power, fraud and awarding of state contracts in exchange for bribes.

Last month the DNA secured the conviction of Romania’s most powerful politician, PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, for corruption.

Kovesi was sacked in early July, after a request from Toader.

Around the same time MPs voted to decriminalise some corruption offences, a change that could help Dragnea.

“These are the worst times for the anti-corruption fight in Romania and it’s the end of it as we know it,” added Toma.

Romania’s Ministry of Justice did not respond to Euronews’ request to address the issues in this article.