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In brief: Lawmakers vote to impeach president

Sat., July 7, 2012, midnight

Bucharest, Romania – Romanian lawmakers impeached President Traian Basescu in an overwhelming vote Friday, paving the way for a national referendum that could see the divisive and increasingly unpopular leader ousted from the powerful position he’s held for eight years.

The vote of 256-114 in parliament came as Basescu and Prime Minister Victor Ponta have engaged in a bitter power struggle in the eastern European country of 19 million. The machinations, especially attempts to sideline the judiciary, have led the United States and the European Union to issue statements of concern about Romania’s democracy.

Senate Speaker Crin Antonescu, who will serve as interim president now that Basescu has been effectively suspended from the role, said a popular referendum on Basescu’s fate will be held July 29.

Elite units part of plan to quell violence

Bogota, Colombia – The top security adviser for Mexico’s next president said Friday that he is recommending the creation of elite units of police and troops who will target not just major drug traffickers but also lower-level cartel hit men as a way of swiftly reducing violence.

The proposal newly retired Colombian police director Gen. Oscar Naranjo explained in an interview with the Associated Press offers a glimpse of how President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto might fulfill his promise to drastically reduce the number of murders and kidnappings by 50 percent during his six years in office.

Similar to the approach that Naranjo employed against Colombian traffickers, the proposal raises the question of whether the widely respected general can reproduce his success in a very different country.

Pena Nieto has pledged to reduce violence by refocusing law-enforcement efforts away from the current administration’s heavy reliance on the military to capture drug-cartel leaders and seize their product. He says he wants to better protect ordinary citizens from criminals.

Leader orders review of protester deaths

Cairo – Egypt’s new president appointed a fact-finding committee to investigate the killing of protesters since the outbreak of last year’s popular uprising that toppled his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

The decree issued late Thursday by Mohammed Morsi orders a review of the investigations and trials related to the killing of nearly 1,000 protesters from Jan. 25, 2011, until June 30, 2012, when Morsi was sworn in as president.

The new 16-member committee is tasked with reopening files from the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak and those who died in clashes with police and soldiers in protests after Feb. 11, 2011, when Mubarak stepped down and a ruling council of generals took power.


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