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Romanian Deputies Back New Orban Government

Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban (file photo)
Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban (file photo)

Lawmakers in Romania backed center-right Prime Minister Ludovic Orban's government in a vote of confidence on March 14 to end a month of wrangling and allow officials to try and combat the global new coronavirus pandemic.

A sufficient number of opposition deputies had signaled their willingness to support an Orban government for President Klaus Iohannis on March 13 to ask the quarantined Orban to try to form a new cabinet.

"It's been 286 votes for the government out of 309 cast ballots and 23 MPs voted against it," a senior ruling party deputy was quoted as having told Reuters.

Iohannis also said that a state of emergency would be declared, effective as of March 16, giving the government more powers to close borders and impose traveling restrictions in an effort to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

The government said the number of confirmed cases in the country has reached 109, with seven new cases registered on the morning of March 14.

Orban, who is the leader of the center-right National Liberal Party (PNL), lost a confidence vote in his minority government in early February.

He had ruled for just three months after replacing a leftist government beset by corruption scandals, and stayed on in a caretaker role.

Local elections are due in late spring or early summer, and parliamentary polls should be held later this year.

Iohannis had held talks with political parties by teleconference because Orban's entire caretaker government has been self-isolated since a PNL lawmaker was confirmed to be infected with the potentially deadly new coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease.

Romanian media quoted sources as saying Orban tested negative for the virus.

Orban told a news conference at parliament earlier on March 13 that he would be quarantined in a state-owned villa and would communicate with the ministers, who are self-isolated at home, by phone and e-mail.

Based on reporting by Reuters, dpa, and RFE/RL's Romanian Service

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