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Romania's Iohannis Nominates Retired General As PM In Push To Break Deadlock


The Minister of Defense, Nicolae Ciucă takes the oath of investiture at the Cotroceni Palace, in Bucharest.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has nominated caretaker Defense Minister Nicolae Ciuca, a 54-year-old retired army general, as prime minister designate in the latest push to end a two-month long political stalemate.

Earlier in the day, the ruling center-right National Liberal Party (PNL), the leftist Social Democratic Party (PSD), and the ethnic Hungarian UDMR group finalized a planned coalition and agreed to endorse Ciuca to lead the government.

He is expected to win a parliamentary vote of confidence.

PNL pledged last week to install a cabinet by November 25.

Romania, one of the European Union's poorest members, has been in political paralysis since a PNL-led centrist coalition government broke apart in September, threatening an economic recovery and the fight against the deadliest surge in COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

"We've been working to create this solid coalition, and this government that is able to ensure Romania's stability ... Romanians are waiting for solutions to fight the impact of the pandemic and the energy crisis," Ciuca told reporters.

Critics say that, although nominally led by the Liberals, the leftist PSD, which is the single largest party in parliament following general elections in December, will hold sway over the new government.

Ciuca was first nominated by Iohannis to form a minority Liberal government in October, but he gave up when it became clear that PNL would not be able to garner sufficient support in parliament.

Romania, which has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the 27-member EU, has been battling a raging fourth wave of COVID-19 infections that saw at its peak last month with some 500 deaths per day in the country of 19 million.

Almost 1.8 million infections have been registered since the start of the pandemic and more than 55,000 people have died of the coronavirus in Romania.

With reporting by Reuters, g4media.ro, and hotnews.ro
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