Thursday, December 20, 2012

BBC News: Romania's Ponta unveils cabinet, vowing to end feud

Romania's Prime Minister-designate Victor Ponta has unveiled his new government and pledged to end a bitter feud with President Traian Basescu.

The cabinet would have 27 ministers, Mr Ponta said, adding that MPs would vote on the proposal on Friday.

He also said he and the president had agreed to set aside their rivalry, which had caused political turmoil.

Mr Basescu had previously hinted he might refuse to reappoint Mr Ponta, whose coalition won recent elections.

Mr Ponta's centre-left Social Liberal Union (USL) swept to victory in the 9 December poll, with the Right Romania Alliance (ARD) of the centre-right president coming a second distant.

Mr Ponta will have to share power with Mr Basescu, whose term runs until 2014.'Pig v scorpion'

On Wednesday, Mr Ponta announced that he intended to retain some key figures in his new-look cabinet, including Foreign Minister Tritus Corlatean and Justice Minister Mona Pivniceru.

He said that the government's first moves would be to postpone the privatisation of several big state companies.

Mr Ponta also said that his long-running feud with President Basescu was now officially over.

He added that the two men had agreed not to "call each other names", including using "comparisons to the animal kingdom", according to Romania's Mediafax news agency.

Mr Ponta has referred to the president as a "venomous scorpion", while Mr Basescu has branded the premier a "pig".

Their antagonism has meant political decision-making has at times been paralysed.

But, says the BBC's correspondent in the region Nick Thorpe, the political feud often seems to have more to do with the vanity of the main players than with genuine differences in policy.

In July, Mr Ponta suspended Mr Basescu and tried to impeach him. But a referendum failed to meet the required turnout.

Romania is the second poorest member of the European Union, which it joined in 2007 with Bulgaria.

The country, together with neighbour Bulgaria, are under special EU monitoring because of concerns about judicial independence, corruption and political influence in state institutions.

Romania is trying to negotiate a new loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to replace the existing one which expires early next year.

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