Romania's new president urges all out war on corruption

Romania's new president urges all out war on corruption
New Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, whose anti-graft platform propelled him to the top job, on Sunday urged politicians to stamp out entrenched corruption in one of Europe's poorest countries.

BUCHAREST - New Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, whose anti-graft platform propelled him to the top job, on Sunday urged politicians to stamp out entrenched corruption in one of Europe's poorest countries.

"There is no other path for Romania" other than becoming a nation "rid of all corruption," Iohannis told parliament after officially assuming his duties.

This must "be understood clearly at every level of the political class," said the 55-year-old, Romania's first president from the German minority.

The former mayor of the Transylvanian city of Sibiu said he wanted a graft-free country when his term ends in five years.

The centre-right politician made waves in mid-November by winning the presidential election against the frontrunner, Social Democrat Prime Minister Victor Ponta.

Observers said Iohannis's anti-graft plank won over voters in a country sick of government corruption, with several senior figures in Ponta's formerly communist Social Democrats accused of financial wrongdoing.

He also benefitted from a record voter turnout -- polls put it over 62 per cent -- which experts had earlier said would disproportionally bring out Iohannis's supporters.

Tempestuous relations between Ponta and previous president Traian Basescu -- who was ineligible to run again after serving two consecutive terms -- paralysed all reform efforts in the former communist country of 20 million people for the past two years.

Relations between Ponta and the new president Iohannis appear more constructive with both expressing their desire for dialogue.

Two days after Iohannis' victory, Ponta presented parliament the president-elect's request to reject a pending controversial amnesty law aimed at freeing corrupt politicians from prison -- a wish the legislators respected.

In Romania's political system, the chief of state is responsable primarily for foreign policy and nominating people to top public positions.

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