Romanian justice minister resigns after losing party support

The move follows disagreements over emergency orders (OUG) related to the criminal code, which Toader avoided signing

Photo: EPA Romania`s Justice Minister Tudorel Toader

Romania’s Justice Minister Tudorel Toader resigned on April 18, a day after the ruling PSD-ALDE coalition withdrew political support for the embattled minister.

"I am heading towards the government headquarters in order to present my resignation to the prime minister, who will decide what to do with it. Most probably he will send it to the president," Toader said in a statement broadcast by Digi 24 TV channel on Thursday evening. He then published his resignation letter on social media, adding he will remain in office to ensure continuity at the justice ministry until the name of his replacement will be published in the Official Gazette.

Toader's decision followed increasing criticism from the PSD in recent months against him for his refusal to adopt controversial emergency ordinances (OUG) that would pardon leading politicians either accused of or already found guilty of corruption. The disagreements essentially made Romania’s ruling Social Democratic Party to decide in an executive council meeting on Wednesday to enact a new reshuffling of the government, with Toador being the first urged to resign. Besides his, two other ministries will also have new leadership as soon as the PSD’s proposals are approved by President Klaus Iohannis.

For the Justice Ministry, PM Dancila announced that the new proposed minister will be MP Eugen Nicolicea, who is expected to back plans to pass the OUGs demanded by PSD leadership. The other two changes will be made to the Ministry of European Funds and the Ministry for Romanians Everywhere, as their ministers Rovana Plumb and Natalia Intotero are set to run in the European Parliament elections in May. They are to be replaced by Oana Florea and Liviu Tit Brailoiu.

Eugen Nicolicea, 62, has little legal experience and infamously gained his legal degree via distance learning at the age of 52. In the early 1990s he publicly called for Romania’s former king Michael to be declared persona non grata. Yet, his appointment is very likely to get rejection or significant delay from President Iohannis, who has been a strong critic of the current government and especially of their actions targeting the Justice system. On Thursday he suggested he would reject Nicolicea’s appointment to the Justice Ministry, claiming that the PSD’s planned reshuffle would “reinforce the assault on Justice”. He added that he would respond to the PM’s requests at the beginning of next week.

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