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Romania official seeks to overturn anti-corruption law

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/01/2017
Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, center, smiles while standing between Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the Social Democratic party, left, and Calin Popescu Tariceanu, head of Romania's Senate, after the swearing in ceremony for his cabinet, in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. Iohannis swore in the new government shortly after it was voted in by parliament, urging it to guarantee an independent justice system and the rule of law, and strengthen its position within the European Union and NATO.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) © The Associated Press Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, center, smiles while standing between Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the Social Democratic party, left, and Calin Popescu Tariceanu, head of Romania's Senate, after the swearing in ceremony for his cabinet, in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. Iohannis swore in the new government shortly after it was voted in by parliament, urging it to guarantee an independent justice system and the rule of law, and strengthen its position within the European Union and NATO.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

BUCHAREST, Romania — A Romanian official on Thursday petitioned the Constitutional Court saying a law banning people with convictions from serving as ministers is unconstitutional.

The move came amid concerns that the new left-leaning government may seek to slow down Romania's anti-corruption fight. It was immediately criticized by President Klaus Iohannis.

His spokeswoman Madalina Dobrovolschi said Iohannis wanted "clear laws and "for Romanians to understand how dangerous this move is." She said it was the president's duty to ensure the constitution was respected.

The petition could help Social Democrat chairman Party Liviu Dragnea, disqualified from being premier because he has an election fraud conviction. His party easily won Dec. 11 elections, but Dragnea was unable to be premier, because of a 2001 law introduced in preparation for Romania's European Union membership. Dragnea says the law is unfair.

Ombudsman Victor Ciorbea said he had "solid" arguments to ask for the law to be overturned, and there should be a balance between state authorities.

Romania approved a new government Wednesday led by Premier Sorin Grindeanu.

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