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Romania: Constantinescu Meets With Coalition Party Leaders

Bucharest, 14 December 1999 (RFE/RL) - Leaders of Romania's National Peasant Party Christian Democratic -- the largest group in the ruling centrist coalition covernment -- are meeting today with President Emil Constantinescu to decide on a candidate for prime minister to replace Radu Vasile. Peasant Party spokesman Lauentiu Stinga said the party was likely to settle on a new premier within a matter of hours. Yesterday, Constantinescu dimissed Vasile after a revolt against the premier by ministers in his own party. Earlier today, interim Prime Minister Alexandru Athanasiu convened the government in an atmosphere of political crisis. The interim government is due to serve until a new prime minister is chosen. At the same time, Vasile said today that he was still the rightful premier and vowed to defend his position. Speaking to Romanian radio, Vasile said that Constantinescu had violated Romania's post-communist constitution by dismissing him.

There are differing views on whether Constantinescu's dismissal of Vasile was legal. Some say that the constitution does not permit the president to dismiss a prime minister. Others suggest that there is legal precedent for the move.