- Title: Romania's President Iohannis rejects leftists' proposal for PM
- Date: 27th December 2016
- Summary: BUCHAREST, ROMANIA (DECEMBER 27, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF PRESIDENTIAL PALACE
- Embargoed: 11th January 2017 13:13
- Keywords: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis Sevil Shhaideh Prime Minister
- Location: BUCHAREST, ROMANIA
- City: BUCHAREST, ROMANIA
- Country: Romania
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0015ENRDIX
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Romania's President Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday (December 27) rejected the leftist Social Democrat Party's (PSD) nominee for prime minister, asking them to find someone else.
The PSD had proposed Sevil Shhaideh, a 52-year-old Muslim woman who is a close associate of PSD power broker Liviu Dragnea who was ruled out of the job due to a conviction in a 2012 referendum rigging case.
The PSD won the Dec. 11 general election by a wide margin and, with its junior coalition partner and long-time ally ALDE, has an outright majority in parliament of 250 members in the 465-seat, two-house assembly and will easily be able to get parliamentary approval for its government.
Dragnea and Shhaideh, who comes from Romania's 65,000-strong Muslim community, are close. He was a witness at her 2011 wedding to a Syrian-born former agriculture ministry consultant.
"I have carefully weighed the pro and con arguments and I have decided not to appoint Mrs. Sevil Shhaideh," Iohannis told reporters. "As a result, I am asking the PSD and ALDE to make a new proposal."
Iohannis did not elaborate on his reasoning and the PSD did not immediately comment.
"They (the Social Democrat party) will force him to make the next move. We'll see, but it will probably be followed by a rejection (from the party). I think it will be a long-term game, followed by a period of instability," political analyst Mircea Marian said, adding that there were either national security reasons to reject her, mentioning her Syrian husband, or purely political reasons.
Rise Project, a member of the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project of investigative journalists, said this month that Shhaideh's husband had posted messages on his Facebook account in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Opinions on the streets of Bucharest were diverse.
"Dragnea should have thought a bit about finding someone who will be with us. I don't say this lady (Sevil Shhaideh) is not, but she is married to a Syrian man. I don't know. This will force us to think a little bit," Bucharest resident Georgeta told Reuters.
"I think this nominee should have been accepted because the budget for next year will now be postponed and everything can end up in deadlock. I don't know what kind of person would meet the president's expectations," said Laura, another passer-by.
The PSD, which promised higher wages and pensions during the election campaign, had hoped Dragnea would stand for prime minister but Iohannis made clear he would refuse any candidate with a criminal record.
Dragnea has kept his post as party chief despite being convicted this year for abusing his influence in a referendum to impeach former president Traian Basescu, for which he received a suspended two-year jail sentence.
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