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Romania's Acting Defense Minister Tapped For Prime Minister Post.

BUCHAREST -- Romania's president has nominated the acting defense minister, retired General Nicolae Ciuca, as prime minister in a bid to end a political stalemate that has threatened to derail efforts to tackle an alarming surge of COVID-19 infections and deaths.

President Klaus Iohannis tasked Ciuca to form a new centrist government on October 21, more than two weeks after Prime Minister Florin Citu's government was toppled by parliament.

“Now, the political crisis must end. We need a government that can solve the problems,” Iohannis said following consultations with parliamentary parties.

Ciuca, a 54-year-old Liberal, has 10 days to draft a cabinet lineup and seek a parliamentary vote of confidence.

The political crisis came as Romania, one of the European Union's poorest states, struggles with a huge spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths, a sputtering economy, and rising energy prices.

On October 21, Romania reported 16,110 new coronavirus cases and 448 COVID-19-related deaths over the previous day.

Nearly 20,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, putting the country’s hospitals under strain.

“It is inadmissible to continue in this style. We have a pandemic crisis, a dramatic situation in hospitals, winter is knocking at the door, energy prices are rising. We need a government with full powers,” Iohannis said.

Iohannis first designated Dacian Ciolos for prime minister, but he failed to win a parliamentary vote of confidence for his centrist minority cabinet on October 21.

Lawmakers from across the political spectrum on October 5 voted overwhelmingly to topple Citu's center-right minority government.

The move came after the center-right Save Romania Union (USR) withdrew from Citu's National Liberal Party-led government, complaining about his "dictatorial attitude" following the firing of several USR members of the government, including the justice and health ministers, as part of a row over a regional development fund.

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