While lawyers desperately tried to restore the impeached South Korean president’s powers, politics advanced without her Tuesday as parties and potential candidates postured for elections that could take place in just months. Dozens of lawmakers split from the conservative ruling party and likely will try to create a party fielding outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as its presidential candidate. Ban’s potential rivals reacted by questioning his presidential credentials and touting their own ideas, including significant policy changes in regard with relations with nuclear-armed North Korea and allies United States and Japan.
The House Special Investigatory Committee met Monday for the first time to investigate fraud, embezzlement and money laundering charges against New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran and gave its chair members the authority to hire a lawyer. The mood was somber and serious as the panel of five Republicans and five Democrats discussed whether the accusations and possible violations of elections laws should lead to her impeachment. “We have a bipartisan committee who’s going to look at all the facts and look at if not only is there criminal violations – but are there ethical violations that have compromised her ability to perform her duties,” said Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuqerque, a member of the committee.
Shortly following Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s first court appearance Tuesday morning, state lawmakers approved a House subcommittee to consider impeaching her. Lawmakers in the interim Legislative Council, which is made up of members of both the House and Senate, approved $250,000 in funding to pay for the impeachment special committee. The funding will likely go towards the hire of outside counsel. State House of Representatives Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, appointed a panel of bipartisan lawmakers to investigate whether Duran should be impeached last week. He told committee members that he anticipated the panel would want money to spend on lawyers. Tripp also made the committee members official during the Legislative Council meeting.
New Mexico House Speaker Don Tripp said Wednesday that a bipartisan committee has been created to investigate charges against Secretary of State Dianna Duran and to consider whether to recommend impeachment. Democrat Gail Chasey of Albuquerque and Republican Zach Cook of Ruidoso will serve as co-chairs of the 10-member special committee. Ms. Duran, a second-term Republican, faces a 64-count criminal indictment accusing her of funneling about $13,000 in campaign contributions to personal bank accounts and withdrawing large sums of money while frequenting casinos around the state.
As state lawmakers continue to take steps toward possibly impeaching Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran, legislators and their staffs have only a few recent legal cases as well as vague constitutional language to draw from. Duran, who faces criminal charges on 64 counts of fraud, money laundering and other crimes related to her campaign finances, would be the first statewide elected official impeached by the Legislature if the process goes through. Recent impeachment proceedings against then state treasurer Robert Vigil in 2005 and Public Regulation Commission member Jerome Block Jr. in 2011 were cut short when the implicated officials resigned.
A New Mexico legislative committee plans to start spadework next week on impeachment proceedings against embattled Secretary of State Dianna Duran, who is accused of funneling campaign contributions to personal bank accounts. No public official has been impeached in state history. Impeachment proceedings were started 10 years ago against state Treasurer Robert Vigil and again in 2011 against Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block Jr. In each case, the process was halted after the officials resigned their posts. Democratic Rep. Ken Martinez of Grants co-chaired the Vigil impeachment panel and tells the Albuquerque Journal that impeachment proceedings are grave and “very difficult.”
House Speaker Don Tripp said late Wednesday that he will create a special legislative panel to investigate the criminal charges against Secretary of State Dianna Duran, a move that marks the first step toward possible impeachment proceedings. The House speaker, a Socorro Republican, did not specify who would be appointed to the House panel, but said it would be made up of either 8 or 10 members, with an equal number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers. He also sent a letter to Attorney General Hector Balderas on Wednesday, asking that evidence from the case be made available to the committee. “Given the serious nature of the allegations made by the attorney general against the secretary of state, I believe the appropriate and responsible next step for the House of Representatives is to begin the process of determining whether these charges have merit and rise to the level of impeachment,” Tripp said in a statement.
New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran faced escalating pressure Monday to resign, as a slew of criminal charges related to her alleged use of campaign contributions to pay for personal expenses, including gambling debt, threatened to put an end to a nearly 30-year run in elected office. Top-ranking House Democrats said they were prepared to take the first steps in a possible impeachment effort if Duran did not resign, while Republican lawmakers also voiced concern about the seriousness of the charges leveled against Duran. House Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, called the impeachment talk premature but said Duran’s alleged withdrawal of hundreds of thousands of dollars at casinos around the state raised concern about a possible gambling addiction, calling the situation a “personal tragedy. I’m confident the secretary of state will take personal responsibility for any mistakes she made,” Tripp told the Journal. However, Duran’s attorney said late Monday that the secretary of state is preparing to fight the charges.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government won a key victory Wednesday in the uphill struggle to form a new administration when the Constitutional Court rejected a bid by the opposition to annul the Feb. 2 election. The ruling clears the way to hold new polls in districts that were unable to vote because of disruption by opposition boycotts and protests. The independent Election Commission has set makeup voting to be held on April 20 and April 27 in those districts. However, the commission has yet to seek a way to hold voting for 28 electoral districts that haven’t even been able to even register candidates because of opposition protests—the scenario that has left the country short of the 95% threshold of the total 500 seats required to seat a new Parliament. The opposition Democrat Party’s application to the court had maintained, among other things, that the election poll wasn’t constitutional because voting wasn’t conducted nationwide on the same day. The chief of the Democrat Party’s legal team, Wiratana Kalayasri, said that he “respects the court’s opinion” but said that he would petition the court again “should the government make any more mistakes.”
Voters will choose a president and vice president, 45 senators, 80 deputies and the governors of 17 departments. The vote was precipitated by the impeachment of Fernando Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop who was laicized upon his election as Paraguay’s president in 2008 and removed from office by the legislature in Jun 2012. Lugo was voted out by Congress over his handling of a land dispute in which 17 people died. The top two presidential candidates are trading accusations of cozying up to drug traffickers and pilfering public funds.
Romania’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday struck down a referendum to impeach President Traian Basescu, foiling a drive by the leftist government to oust its chief political opponent months before a parliamentary election. The government said it would accept the decision, but the acting president said Basescu was now an “illegitimate” leader. Several hundred people gathered in two main Bucharest squares in the afternoon, one crowd supporting the president and the other protesting against him. Both remained peaceful.
Romanian President Traian Basescu appears to have survived a referendum on his impeachment. As polls closed, preliminary figures indicated turnout was less than the 50% required to make the result invalid. Basescu, who has been suspended by parliament, had asked his supporters to boycott the vote.The center-left government had accused the center-right president of exceeding his authority and of meddling in government affairs. Polling stations closed at 23:00 local time (20:00GMT). First results are expected on Monday. Three hours before the polls were due to close, the election bureau said turnout so far had been 37.7%, the BBC reported. Initial polls put the turnout at about 44%. As voting ended, Basescu said that Romanians had “rejected a coup” by staying away from polling stations.
Romanians will vote Sunday on whether to oust their country’s president as part of an impeachment process that the European Union says threatens to undermine the former communist-bloc nation’s young democracy. The nationwide recall referendum comes amid a partisan feud between a resurgent left, led by new Prime Minister Victor Ponta, and center-right politicians, including President Traian Basescu, whose popularity has been severely dented by austerity measures and a weak economy. Recent legislative and political maneuvers carried out by Mr. Ponta’s supporters and designed to make it easier to remove Mr. Basescu have drawn fire from critics inside and outside Romania who say the moves endanger the rule of law and judicial independence. Under pressure from the EU, which Romania joined in 2007, Mr. Ponta, a 39-year-old Social Democrat, agreed to roll back measures the regional group found objectionable. However, a parliamentary vote to impeach Mr. Basescu, which triggered Sunday’s ballot, remains in force. EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said Wednesday that Brussels is “still very much worried on the state of democracy in Romania.”
Romania’s opposition Democratic Liberals urged voters who support suspended President Traian Basescu to boycott a referendum on July 29 to help win his reinstatement by invalidating the impeachment vote. The opposition said voters should stay away from the polling stations because the ruling coalition won’t meet the same organizational standards as in the 2009 presidential election, increasing the possibility for electoral fraud, Democrat Liberal leader Vasile Blaga told reporters in Bucharest today. The ruling Social Liberal Union don’t understand that they “should set up the vote under the same conditions as in 2009, when we also had surveillance cameras, so we ask citizens to stay away from this masquerade” Blaga said.
Romania extended the voting hours to boost turnout and increase the chances of reaching a minimum threshold to make a July 29 referendum on removing President Traian Basescu valid. Lawmakers voted in favor of changing a referendum law to keep polling stations open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mircea Dusa, the government minister in charge with the relations with the legislature, told reporters today. Parliament’s two houses also voted to introduce a requirement of a minimum turnout to meet the terms of a Constitutional Court ruling and pledges to European Union leaders.
Romania: New law gives suspended president chance of surviving impeachment vote | The Washington Post
Romania’s interim president on Tuesday signed a new law that requires a majority of registered voters to take part in a referendum for it to be valid, giving suspended President Traian Basescu a fighting chance of remaining in office when his impeachment comes up for a public vote. The former communist country appeared to be signaling to the European Union that it is addressing concern about the state of its democracy, a key issue as it tries to attain greater privileges within the regional bloc, including access to its passport-free zone. Basescu was impeached by Parliament on grounds he overstepped his authority by meddling in government business and the judicial system. Critics accuse Prime Minister Victor Ponta of orchestrating the move as part of a power grab, and the political turmoil has dented Romania’s credibility, with the U.S. and the EU expressing doubts about the left-leaning government’s respect for the independence of the judiciary.
A state senator is calling for the resignation or impeachment of Secretary of State Jason Gant, who has faced a steady drumbeat of criticism for being too politically involved. Sen. Stan Adelstein, R-Rapid City, has filed an official complaint about Gant with Attorney General Marty Jackley, who is reviewing the issue and expects to produce a report within the next few weeks. Adelstein hopes this investigation will produce pressure on Gant to resign, or possibly provide grounds to impeach him when the Legislature reconvenes in January. “Gant has to leave,” Adelstein said. “My problem now becomes this: If it’s only going to be impeachment, it’ll be a terrible distraction to the legislative process. I’ve really got to see what I can do to make it more compelling for Gant to resign. I’m not sure how I’m going to do that.”
Seven opposition lawmakers yesterday set out on what is likely to be an uphill task when they signed onto an unprecedented petition seeking to impeach President Museveni. The lawmakers say the President, who faced a similar though unsuccessful challenge during the 7th Parliament from former MP Aggrey Awori, is guilty of economic crimes. However, pro-ruling party members, who enjoy a commanding majority in the House, were quick to pour cold water on the attempt to unseat the President under Article 107(1)b of the Constitution, describing it as “diversionary, irresponsible and unwarranted.”