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Published: Wed, December 28, 2016
World | By Tasha Manning

Romania's President refuses to nominate Muslim Prime Minister

Romania's President refuses to nominate Muslim Prime Minister

Iohannis had been expected to name the new premier before Christmas, but he delayed the nomination, saying he needed more time for deliberation of "two proposals" for the post.

"As a result, I am asking the Social Democrat Party (PSD) and [its coalition partner] ALDE to make a new proposal", Iohannis said.

The PSD leader also said that the PSD-ALDE coalition is also considering establishing a committee that will decide if the President's gesture was constitutional or not.

Beyond that fact that Dragnea and Shhaideh are close, the nomination of a Muslim for the PM's post came as a surprise after the PSD ran an election campaign with a heavy nationalistic flavour under the slogans "proud to be Romanian" and "Dare to believe in Romania".

"It will not be an easy decision", Dragnea said.

"We'll weigh our options very carefully, because we don't want to take emotional decisions".

He added that if the PSD-ALDE majority reaches the conclusion that it's best for the country to suspend the President, he'll have "no hesitation" to start the procedure.

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Under Romania's constitution, Mr Dragnea now has the opportunity to nominate one other candidate for prime minister, who must be accepted by the president.

Analysts believe that the president's decision would cause major political turmoil in Romania, as Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea said Wednesday after the consultations with Iohannis that he would not make another proposal in case the president refuses to appoint Shhaideh, a Muslim woman from the ethnic Tatar minority.

Having only briefly served as regional development minister in 2015, Shhaideh has been criticized for a lack of political experience.

It led to suggestions the party leader was attempting to appoint a prime minister he could easily control.

Dragnea is disqualified from the premiership; he received a two-year suspended jail sentence in April for inflating voter numbers in a 2012 referendum election, and Iohannis has said he will not pick a prime minister with a criminal record.

Brussels has long complained about corruption since Romania's accession to the European Union in 2007 and since the fire the country has been making progress tackling it.

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