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Romania president names new prime minister

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 20, 2016, Romania's President Klaus Werner Iohannis gestures as he arrives for an European Union leaders summit at the European Council, in Brussels. Romania's president rejected on December 27, 2016 the left-wing Social Democrats' candidate for prime minister, Sevil Shhaideh, who would have been the EU's country first female and Muslim premier./ AFP PHOTO / THIERRY CHARLIER

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 20, 2016, Romania’s President Klaus Werner Iohannis gestures as he arrives for an European Union leaders summit at the European Council, in Brussels. Romania’s president rejected on December 27, 2016 the left-wing Social Democrats’ candidate for prime minister, Sevil Shhaideh, who would have been the EU’s country first female and Muslim premier./ AFP PHOTO / THIERRY CHARLIER

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Friday named social-democrat Sorin Grindeanu as the nation’s new prime minister, bringing to a close weeks of uncertainty since the left won a parliamentary vote on December 11.

The centre-right president has signed a decree naming Grindeanu, a 43-year-old former communications minister, as the new premier.

Grindeanu now faces a confidence vote in parliament on his programme and cabinet nominees.

The nomination sought to put an end to a political crisis in Romania sparked when after Iohannis rejected a previous candidate who would have been the country’s first female and first Muslim prime minister.

The president offered no reasons for his rejection of Sevil Shhaideh, initially put forward by the Social Democrats (PSD), but there was speculation that it was due to her Syrian husband’s background.

Shhaideh, 52, who has only five months ministerial experience, is from Romania’s small and long-established Turkish minority, but her Muslim faith is not thought to have been the problem.

The PSD had proposed the previously little-known Shhaideh after its thumping poll victory on December 11 when it won 45 percent of the vote, enough to form a majority coalition with its partners ALDE.

PSD leader Liviu Dragnea had withdrawn his own bid to become prime minister because of a conviction that bars him from office.

The PSD’s election triumph came barely a year since anger over a deadly nightclub fire that killed 64 people forced it from office.

The inferno was blamed on corruption — something Brussels has long complained about since Romania joined the EU in 2007.



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