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Former EU commissioner appointed new Romanian prime minister

Former EU agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos has been designated Romania's new prime minister. Victor Ponta and his Cabinet resigned last week amid mass anti-government protests sparked by a deadly nightclub fire.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis announced the appointment on Tuesday following discussions with the country's political parties on the formation of a new government.

If approved by parliament, 46-year-old Ciolos is expected to put together a broadly backed government of technocrats with a limited mandate of one year. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for December 2016.

"I see a government of technocrats as the solution for now," Iohannis told reporters in Bucharest. "Political parties have agreed with this idea. I am convinced it is the right path for a year (until the election)."

Ciolos is to replace Socialist Victor Ponta, who

resigned on November 4

following an outburst of public anger towards his government. Tens of thousands of Romanians

took to the streets

after an October 30 fire and stampede at a concert in Bucharest claimed 48 lives. Scores of others have been left with serious injuries.

Many protesters blamed the government for the tragedy, citing lax safety standards and a corrupt political system. Ponta himself

has been on trial for corruption

since September 21.

Following the tragedy, President Iohannis has said nobody would have died if fire regulations had been respected. The nightclub's three owners have since been detained, prosecutors have raided the district town hall and officials have questioned the local police chief over how the venue was allowed to operate with only one exit.

nm/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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