Monday, December 15, 2008

New nominee picked for Romanian premiership

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — The candidate nominated as prime minister in Romania's next government renounced the job on Monday and was replaced by the leader of the same centrist party.

President Traian Basescu had selected Theodor Stolojan, 65, last week to form a coalition government following Nov. 30 elections. But Stolojan said Monday that he was stepping aside for a younger person.

Basescu said he would now nominate 42-year-old Emil Boc, who heads the Democratic Liberal Party, which Basescu led before becoming president. The party will share power with the left-leaning Social Democrats.

"(Boc) is party leader. ... The Democratic Liberal Party does do not have anyone else as influential and credible as its party leader," Basescu said.

After the announcement, Boc said he would put together a working group to help him manage the economic crisis that has hit Romania.

"Our objective is to give Romania a stable and competent government," Boc said.

He said the working group would draw on experts from the National Bank, people from civil society and business, and from the Romanian Academy which has top experts in various fields,

Boc, a lawyer, has been mayor of the Transylvanian city of Cluj since 2004. He defeated former ultranationalist mayor Gheorghe Funar and is credited with having attracted more foreign business to the city of more than 300,000.

Boc, who speaks English and French, has headed the Democratic Liberal Party since 2003, when it was called the Democratic Party.

Basescu expressed sadness at Stolojan's decision to renounce the nomination.

"The only person who can explain why he withdrew is Mr. Stolojan. I don't want to explain the reasons he told me," said Basescu, adding "I am a bit sad."

Stolojan, who had been prime minister between 1991 and 1992, was experienced in economic issues but was accused of inflexibility in political negotiations.

He had run for president in 2000, and lost. He ran again in 2004 when he withdrew for health reasons. Basescu ran in his place and won a five-year term.

The new government had been expected to face a parliament vote on Dec. 22 but it was unclear whether this would now be possible.

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