18 March 2018

Wanted to be PM, was offered deputy PM job

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A Romanian economist who had been poised to become the country's first female and Muslim prime minister was offered a job as deputy premier Tuesday after the country's president declined to nominate her for the top government job.

Liviu Dragnea, chairman of the Social Democratic Party which won the Dec. 11 election, said that Sevil Shhaideh, the party's first choice for premier, would serve as deputy premier and as regional development minster, a spot she briefly held in 2015.

President Klaus Iohannis decided against nominating Shhaideh, a political novice, because of concerns over the support her Syria-born husband had expressed for Syrian President Bashar Assad on social media.

Parliament is expected to approve the 26-member coalition government Wednesday. It has four more ministries than the previous technocrat-led government and eight of the portfolios are held by women. Dragnea named close ally Carmen Daniela Dan to the key post of interior minister, the first woman to hold the position.

The nominee for foreign minister is Teodor Melescanu, 75, who entered the foreign ministry during the communist era. Melescanu previously served as foreign minister from 1992-1996 and for a few days in 2014. He also headed Romania's foreign espionage agency.

Lia Olguta Vasilescu has been proposed as labor minister. She was indicted last year on suspicion of bribery, using her authority or influence to obtain money or other goods and for money laundering. She denies wrongdoing. In December, a court ordered anti-corruption prosecutors to redraft her indictment.

The Social Democrats will govern with the junior Alliance of Liberals and Democrats

"We have a program to govern," said Prime Minister-elect Sorin Grindeanu. "It urges us to show responsibility, modesty and respect for Romanians."

2017.01.04 / 10:59
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