Four-star Romanian general tasked with forming government

Nicolae Ciuca, the country’s defence minister and an Iraqi war veteran, now needs to get a nod from Parliament.

Romania's Defence Minister Nicolae Ciuca participates in an arrival ceremony at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, US October 8, 2020 [File; Erin Scott/Reuters]

Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis on Thursday nominated the country’s defence minister, retired four-star general Nicolae Ciuca, as prime minister, a choice seen as a compromise solution aimed at overcoming a protracted political crisis.

Romania was plunged into turmoil in early October when liberal Prime Minister Florin Citu lost a no-confidence vote in Parliament, weeks after a coalition ally walked out of his government over what they termed his “dictatorial attitude”.

Iohannis had initially chosen former EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos to replace Citu, despite clear signs that Ciolos could not rely on the required majority in Parliament.

On Wednesday, only 88 senators and deputies in the 465-seat parliament voted in favour of the cabinet picked by Ciolos.

Now is Ciuca’s turn to seek the backing of members of Parliament but he is seen as having much broader support and therefore more likely to succeed.

Ciuca, 54, is a four-star general who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was a battalion commander. He entered politics last year as a member of the National Liberal Party (PNL).

If he gets the nod from the Parliament, Ciuca will probably head a minority government together made up of PNL and UDMR, the party representing Romania’s ethnic Hungarian minority.

UDMR leader Hunor Kelemen told reporters that while it was “unusual for a military man to lead a government in a democratic country”, his party was “open to dialogue”.

Iohannis said in a televised address that the country needed “a government invested with full powers”, pointing to the “dramatic situation” in the country’s hospitals, once again under huge strain from a wave of COVID-19 infections.

Source: AFP