Romanian President Appoints Defense Minister as Interim PM

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) -

Romania’s president on Tuesday appointed the defense minister as interim prime minister after Premier Mihai Tudose unexpectedly resigned.

President Klaus Iohannis named Mihai Fifor to temporarily take the post of prime minister, saying the current “political uncertainty should not degenerate into political instability” and cause negative economic effects.

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 close to record low levels and a two-week low against the euro Tuesday.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is visiting Romania at the end a six-country European tour, arrived Tuesday, but lunch and talks with the Romanian prime minister were canceled due to the political crisis. Abe will meet Iohannis later Tuesday for talks.

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

Iohannis will consult with political parties Wednesday before formally proposing a candidate for prime minister who needs to get parliamentary approval.

The Social Democrats won elections in Dec. 2016 and ousted previous Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu in a no-confidence vote after he had a falling out with Dragnea.