Romania’s President Iohannis rejects leftists’ proposal for prime minister

BUCHAREST: Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis (pictured) on Tuesday rejected the leftist Social Democrat Party’s (PSD) nominee for prime minister, asking them to find someone else.
The PSD had proposed Sevil Shhaideh, a 52-year-old Muslim woman who is a close associate of PSD power broker Liviu Dragnea who was ruled out of the job due to a conviction in a 2012 referendum rigging case.
The PSD won the December 11 general election by a wide margin and, with its junior coalition partner and long-time ally ALDE, has an outright majority in parliament of 250 members in the 465-seat, two-house assembly and will easily be able to get parliamentary approval for its government.
Dragnea and Shhaideh, who comes from Romania’s 65,000- strong Muslim community, are close. He was a witness at her 2011 wedding to a Syrian-born former agriculture ministry consultant.
“I have carefully weighed the pro and con arguments and I have decided not to appoint Mrs Sevil Shhaideh,” Iohannis told reporters. “As a result, I am asking the PSD and ALDE to make a new proposal.”
Iohannis did not elaborate on his reasoning and the PSD did not immediately comment.
Political commentator Mircea Marian said: “Either there were national security reasons to reject her, as she is married to a Syrian citizen which may put security at risk, or there were purely political reasons.” “The PSD has lost a lot by making this proposal, which came as a surprise to their hard core electorate.”
Rise Project, a member of the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project of investigative journalists, said this month that Shhaideh’s husband had posted messages on his Facebook account in support of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. The PSD, which promised higher wages and pensions during the election campaign, had hoped Dragnea would stand for prime minister but Iohannis made clear he would refuse any candidate with a criminal record. — Reuters

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