BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania's parliament on Tuesday rejected a request by anti-corruption prosecutors to lift the immunity of the prime minister who is a suspect in a corruption probe.
Lawmakers voted 231-120 against a request by the anti-corruption prosecutors to prosecute Victor Ponta. The premier is suspected of corruption charges, including being an accomplice to tax evasion from 2007 to 2008 while serving in Parliament, a conflict of interest and money laundering.
After the vote, President Klaus Iohannis renewed his call for Ponta to resign.
The embattled prime minister earlier told foreign media that he considered resigning after being informed that he was a suspect in a corruption investigation, but decided to stay on to ensure political stability.
Ponta denies wrongdoing and says he will cooperate with prosecutors. He said the resignation of his government would have caused a "political crisis ... of three, four, five months."
Iohannis has asked Ponta to resign three times since prosecutors named him as a suspect on June 5. He criticized Parliament for voting to save his immunity.
"It is a proof of maximum irresponsibility and lack of respect for public opinion that most lawmakers are preventing justice from doing its duty and are willing to destroy the institution of Parliament ... and harm Romania's image to save a single person," Iohannis said in a statement.
Iohannis has said that he would prefer the whole government to resign, not just Ponta.
Ponta's center-left government faces a vote of no-confidence on Friday. The prime minister said he hoped he would survive.
"I think I have a solid majority, but there are three days until then," he said.
Ponta told journalists that the political crisis was an "an unexpected gift" for Russia, which has cool relations with Romania.