Former justice minister launches presidential bid vowing to tackle corruption, incompetence

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Former Justice Minister Ana Birchall on Tuesday announced she will run in this year’s presidential elections as an independent, vowing to root out corruption and ‘injustices’ she said Romanians faced every day.

Launching her bid during a political talk show, Mrs. Birchall, 50, she said she wanted a fairer society and better quality of life for Romanians.

“Every Romanian faces injustice every day; fights a battle with incompetence; abuse, and crooked laws that only apply to some people,” she said.

“I am running because I want to remove these injustices that start at the top,” she told Digi24.

Her announcement came a day after another woman, Elena Lasconi publicly announced her intention to run for president. Ms Lasconi is the mayor of the southern town of Campulung Muscel and also running for the leadership of the progressive Save Romania Union.

Romania is  expected to hold presidential elections in September when the incumbent President Klaus Iohannis steps down after serving a maximum two five-year terms.

Mrs. Birchall, a Yale-educated lawyer held the justice portfolio from April 2019 to November that year. She was expelled from the Social Democratic Party in 2019 for failing to push forward legislation by the party that would have weakened the anti-corruption fight and the rule of law.

Under her short tenure she successfully extradited former Constanta mayor Radu Mazare who fled to Madagascar to avoid a prison sentence for corruption.

Evoking those times, she claimed Romania’s justice system was „much worse than in 2017, 2018 and 2019”. „You still have files that have been closed. They are falling like skittles.”

“Romania cannot develop, Romania cannot grow, Romania cannot unleash its potential, as long as everything is built on the quicksand of organized corruption, …and incompetence. “

She said Mr. Mazare was released on parole ”without paying a single leu of damages he owed to the Romanian state,  the sum of 114 million euros,”

Mrs.Birchall was a lawmaker for the Social  Democrats from 2016 to 2020 when she took a break from politics.

In December 2023, she was named Special Envoy for Strategic and International Affairs at  Nuclearelectrica, the Romanian nuclear power energy company.

She is married to businessman Martyn Birchall and they have a son.

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