April 20, 2007 / 6:45 PM / 12 years ago

Key facts about Romania's Basescu

(Reuters) - Romania’s suspended president, Traian Basescu, said on Friday he will not resign after parliament removed him for 30 days on charges of abusing his powers.

Here are some key facts on Basescu.

* EARLY LIFE:

— Born in November 1951 in Basarabi, near Romania’s main sea port of Constanta, Basescu pursued a career as a sailor.

— A rank-and-file communist party member, a must for any ocean-going captain in the 1980s during the rule of former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Basescu’s only claim to fame was praise from the party newspaper in 1985 for being a good sailor.

* BECOMING MAYOR:

— After communism collapsed in 1989, he became transport minister in a centrist government, spearheading the privatisation of Romania’s vast but rusting commercial fleet.

— In 2000 he won a landslide victory against the Social Democrat Party (PSD) candidate for Bucharest mayor, Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, with a campaign whose symbol was the red pepper — a staple of Romanian cooking and a warning to his rivals that he stings.

— Famous for trying to rid the capital of hordes of stray dogs, he dismissed angry reactions from Western animals rights activists. “I am elected by the people of Bucharest, not the dogs,” he told Reuters at the time.

* BASESCU AS PRESIDENT:

— Basescu was declared winner of the 2004 presidential election runoff, snatching victory from the favourite, former President Ion Iliescu’s hand-picked protege Prime Minister Adrian Nastase.

— In 2005 Basescu started the process of opening of Securitate records when he ordered the secret services to transfer their files to the National Council for Studying Securitate Archives. Researchers of the country’s communist-era secret police cleared the president in October 2006 of accusations he collaborated with the feared Securitate.

— A parliamentary commission supported by the ex-communist opposition (PSD) has accused Basescu, Romania’s most popular politician, of fuelling political instability and interfering in the judiciary. Basescu, who said earlier this week he would resign if suspended, will now face a national impeachment referendum within a month.

— Since winning power, Basescu has drawn international praise for giving strong support to the government’s efforts to fight graft and for preparing Romania to join the EU.

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