A branch of the National Liberal Party - a senior member of the governing coalition in Bucharest - decided to expel top official Theodor Stolojan on Tuesday, days before he and a fellow Liberal were to present a program for the reform of the less and less popular political group.

Theodor Stolojan, a former president of the PNL who had served as prime minister of Romania in the early nineties, is serving as counselor for President Traian Basescu.

Basescu roots his political support in the Democratic Party-PD, another senior member of the governing coalition which is at loggerheads with the Liberals on an endless list of issues despite forming an alliance with them in an effort to guarantee a stable government.

Theodor Stolojan told HotNews.ro today that his expulsion was done at the pressure of a “camarilla” led by incumbent PM and Liberal Party leader Calin Popescu Tariceanu, seconded by two other top members of the group. He said the three have managed to subordinate the party to a group interested in destroying its credibility.

Stolojan also said he would not challenge the decision, taken by the local PNL branch in Bucharest District 2, to which he belonged.

For his part, PM Tariceanu said Stolojan expulsion, seen in Romania as a major political event that may complicate relations within the governing coalition even further, was a statutory decision.

Stolojan is the fourth top PNL member ousted from the party this year. All four are seen as close to President Basescu.

The decision comes as the Democratic Party renewed its offer to merge with the Liberals as long as the latter accept joining the European Popular Party. The offer received a cold reply from Liberal leader Tariceanu, who said PD leader Emil Boc’s announcement in this regard today was “nothing new under the sun”.

The PD move was received by political analysts with a grain of salt as well, as it was seen as just another effort to press the Liberals into a make-or-break point in the dialogue between the two senior members of the governing coalition.