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Romanian president reappoints Ponta as PM

The Romanian president has reappointed a political rival to lead a new government, following the country's parliamentary election. After voters delivered a clear result, the president was left with little other choice.

Monday's announcement came after President Traian Basescu met with the leaders of the center-left alliance that won the December 9 vote to discuss possible candidates for the post of premier.

"Due to the fact that there was only one proposal by the political parties ... President Traian Basescu designated Mr. Victor Ponta as candidate for the prime minister position," a statement released by the presidency said.

The move came as little surprise, despite the fact that the president had hinted several times during the campaign leading up to the election that he would not reappoint Victor Ponta as prime minister. Ponta's USL trounced the center-right alliance supported by Basescu, winning around 60 percent of the vote.

The decision means that the uneasy bedfellows will be forced to attempt to coexist for the foreseeable future, despite their differences. Basescu's term as president runs until the end of 2014.

For the time being at least, the move could ease concerns about Romania's political stability.

The duo reached a boiling point last July, with Ponta's failed attempt to get Basescu impeached over allegations that he had overstepped his powers. Basescu kept his job, after a referendum on the proposal to impeach him failed to draw the minimum 50 percent turnout required for the vote to be valid.

Basescu first appointed Ponta as prime minister last May, after the previous center-right government lost a confidence vote in parliament amid criticism over austerity measures designed to rein in the country's deficit.

Now that Ponta has been reappointed to the post, one of his first priorities is expected to be wrapping up a new deal with the International Monetary Fund to replace a five-billion-euro ($6.6 billion) line of emergency credit due to expire early next year.

Romania first turned to the IMF in May, 2009, when it obtained a 20-billion-euro rescue package, also funded by the European Union and the World Bank. As has been the case in bailouts of other troubled eurozone economies, Romania promised to take steps to reduce its public deficit in exchange for the financial assistance.

pfd/hc (AFP, Reuters, dpa)