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Romanian president appoints defense minister as interim PM

Romanian president appoints defense minister as interim PM

FILE – In this Thursday, June 29, 2017, file photo Romanian Premier Mihai Tudose removes his glasses before a parliament vote on the new Romanian government in Bucharest, Romania. Romania’s prime minister has resigned, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, after his party withdrew its support amid a power struggle with party chairman after Romania’s ruling left-wing Social Democratic Party withdrew its support for Mihai Tudose after a meeting lasting more than five hours. (Vadim Ghirda, File/Associated Press)

BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s president appointed the country’s defense minister Tuesday to temporarily fill the vacancy left by Prime Minister Mihai Tudose’s unexpected resignation.

President Klaus Iohannis named Defense Minister Mihai Fifor as interim prime minister, saying the current “political uncertainty should not degenerate into political instability” that court hurt the economy.

Tudose, who took office in June 2017, quit late Monday after the left-wing Social Democratic Party withdrew its support for him amid a power struggle with powerful party chairman Liviu Dragnea. Dragnea himself can’t be prime minister due to a 2016 conviction for vote-rigging.

The resignation plunged Romania’s currency, the leu, close to record-low levels and a two-week low against the euro Tuesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is finishing a six-country European tour, arrived in Romania Tuesday, Scheduled lunch and talks with the prime minister were canceled, but Abe was to meet with the president.

The Social Democrats later named Viorica Dancila, a Romanian member of the European Parliament since 2009 and an ally of Dragnea’s, as their choice for prime minister. Dragnea said her connections with EU officials would benefit the government.

Iohannis plans to consult with political parties Wednesday before proposing a candidate, who would need to be approved by Romania’s lawmakers to take office.

The Social Democrats ousted Tudose’s predecessor, Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, in a no-confidence vote after he fell out with Dragnea. The party has been in power since the December 2016 election.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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