Romanian president delays PM nomination

BUCHAREST - Romania's president postponed on Thursday his expected nomination of a new prime minister of the EU's second-poorest country until after this weekend, saying further discussions were needed.

"In the coming days I will have talks and the designation will take place after Christmas," Klaus Iohannis said, adding that he had received "two proposals" on who should be premier.

Romania's Social Democrats (PSD) cruised to victory in parliamentary elections on December 11 with 45 per cent of the vote. The party and its allies, the ALDE party, have a comfortable majority of 17 seats in parliament.

PSD leader Liviu Dragnea on Wednesday withdrew his bid to become prime minister because he is serving two-year suspended sentence for electoral fraud, putting forward former development minister Sevil Shhaideh instead.

Shhaideh, 52, would be Romania's first female and first Muslim premier. But her lack of experience and personal closeness to Dragnea have stoked opposition accusations that she would merely be his puppet.

Indeed Dragnea said Wednesday that he would "assume responsibility for the government's actions" and that he still hoped to become prime minister one day. He suggested the law barring him from office could be tweaked.

The PSD's election triumph came barely a year after anger over a deadly nightclub fire that killed 64 people - and blamed on endemic corruption - forced the party from office.

The party has promised to boost wages and pensions and cut taxes.