BUCHAREST, May 27 (Xinhua) -- Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila on Monday announced to take over the leadership of the main ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), after party leader Liviu Dragnea was sentenced to jail earlier on the day.
"As an executive president I take over as party chairperson," Dancila told a press conference after a leadership meeting at the party headquarters in the north of the capital.
"We are a united party, in difficult times the PSD has tightened the ranks, so we will do now," she said, stressing that she will not resign from the post of prime minister, regardless of requests from the oppositions.
"If someone asks for resignation does not mean that we must immediately accept that. The stability of the country is important," said Dancila, adding that "we will respect the decision in Parliament if a censure motion is tabled."
According to her, she will call two important party meetings on Tuesday, the meeting of the National Standing Bureau and that of the National Executive Committee.
"Together we will make the decisions, see where we are wrong, see how we can act together," said Dancila.
Referring to the prison sentence of party leader Liviu Dragnea, also speaker of Romanian Chamber of Deputies, she said that as party colleagues, "we are there for him and for his family. It is a difficult moment, obviously."
"We will not comment in any way the court's decision," Dancila added.
Bucharest police confirmed earlier that Dragnea was already at Rahova Penitentiary in southwestern Bucharest after being sentenced to 3 years and 6 months imprisonment on corruption charge, in a final conviction by the country's Supreme Court.
Dragnea, 56, was accused by anticorruption prosecutors of having used his influence over ten years ago as President of the Teleorman County Council at that time to employ two persons at the local child protection and social assistance directorate, despite the fact that the two were actually working for the local organization of the Social Democratic Party.
Most political analysts here believe that Dragnea's corruption case has had a serious negative impact on the ruling party, as he tried to reverse the case and even considered to amend the relevant laws.
The Romanian opposition has been using this case to attack the ruling party, leading to a severe decline by half in the party's popular support since the end of 2016 after the party's overwhelming victory in the general election.
Dragnea's imprisonment will surely bring about major changes in the ruling party, while the Chamber of Deputies of the bicameral parliament will have to elect a new speaker.