Romanian president nominates centrist party leader for PM

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s president on Monday nominated centrist party leader Dacian Ciolos to be prime minister after a protracted political crisis culminated last week in the Liberal-led coalition government being ousted in a no-confidence vote.

After a day of deliberations Monday with Romania’s political parties, President Klaus Iohannis nominated USR leader Ciolos to try to form a government. Ciolos previously served as prime minister between 2015 and 2017 in a caretaker cabinet.

“We are ready to take responsibility for the government and start negotiations with the other parties,” Ciolos said in a statement after his nomination. “Our objective is to get Romania out of the crisis and for that, it takes a lot of responsibility from all political forces.”

The president’s nomination will need to be approved by lawmakers.

Romania’s political crisis started in early September when outgoing Prime Minister Florin City sacked the USR-Plus justice minister for not signing off on a 10 billion euro ($11.5 billion) regional infrastructure development program. USR reacted by resigning all six of its ministers.

Last week’s no-confidence vote — which passed overwhelmingly — was filed by the leftist opposition Social Democrat Party and was supported by the Liberals’ former coalition partner USR-Plus and the populist far-right AUR party.

Iohannis said Monday that high among the issues that Romanian lawmakers need to address are managing the pandemic, dealing with the increasing costs of energy, and accessing key funds from the European Union, to which Romania belongs.

Romania, a nation of 19 million, is the second-least vaccinated country against COVID-19 in the 27-nation bloc, with just 34% of all adults fully inoculated. It is currently battling an alarming surge of COVID-19 infections.

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