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Romanian president picks defence minister to become prime minister

Romania's Defence Minister Nicolae Ciuca has been nominated by the president to become the new prime minister.

Romania’s Defence Minister Nicolae Ciuca has been nominated by the president to become the new prime minister.

On Thursday, President Klaus Iohannis proposed the 54-year-old former chief of general staff of the armed forces and politician in the current ruling conservative PNL party for the post of prime minister.

It was initially unclear which parties would support Ciuca in parliament.

Ciuca made a name for himself in particular as commander of the Romanian missions in Afghanistan and Iraq alongside US forces between 2001 and 2004. He has long been considered a favourite of Iohannis.

Romania has been in a serious leadership crisis since the collapse of the coalition between the PNL and the small eco-liberal party USR in September.

On Wednesday, an attempt by USR leader Dacian Ciolos to get a majority from parliament for a government led by him failed.

It is likely to be decided soon whether Ciuca will seek a restoration of the coalition with the USR, or at least seek parliamentary support from the social democratic opposition party PSD.

PNL is also allied with the Hungarian-minority party UDMR, but this is not enough for a majority in parliament.

Currently, Prime Minister Florin Citu of the PNL governs Romania on a provisional basis with limited powers.

This is a cause for concern in view of the dramatic coronavirus emergency in the country.

A fortnight ago, the parliament passed a vote of no confidence in Citu.

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