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Romania prosecutors seek investigation into ministerial abuse in presidential referendum

Romanian prosecutors on Friday asked the country's Parliament [official website] to approve a planned criminal investigation against Victor Dobre, a former junior minister who oversaw public administration in the country's Ministry of Interior [official website, in Romanian] until he quit this week. The prosecutors are accusing Dobre of having abused public interest [Reuters report] by instructing an aide to write a letter to the Constitutional Court [official website] stating that the ministry could not confirm the turnout numbers for the July 29 national referendum on the resignation of President Traian Basescu [official website, in Romanian]. The letter caused "significant disruption in the activity of institutions" by calling into question the results of the referendum and forcing the court to delay its ruling certifying the results. Under Romanian law only the president and the parliament can request an investigation of a minister.

President Basescu survived [JURIST report] the national referendum last week when the vote, despite yielding 88 percent majority in favor of Basescu's resignation, was invalidated for failing to achieve the required threshold of 50 percent voter turnout. Prime Minister Victor Ponta [BBC profile], a member of the Social Liberal Union (USL) party that gained the majority seat in the parliament, led the referendum accusing the president. USL had voted [JURIST report] in early July to impeach the president in a 256-114 vote, at the same time passing an elimination of the referendum law's 50 percent turnout provision. The Supreme Court, however, reinstated [JURIST report] the requirement holding that in case of a lower than 50 percent turnout the referendum would be invalid.

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