Romania's President Rejects Muslim woman as a Prime Minister
Tuesday, 27 December 2016
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Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has rejected the prime ministerial candidate nominated by the left-of-centre Social Democrats (PSD), the BBC reports. 

Sevil Shhaideh would have been Romania's first female and Muslim prime minister. President Iohannis has given no reasons for his decision.

Shhaideh has been criticised for lacking political experience, only serving once as a regional minister.

Analysts say her Syrian husband's background may also have been a factor. In response, PSD leader Liviu Dragnea said his party might consider trying to impeach Iohannis.

He said there was no constitutional reason for refusing Shhaideh, and accused Iohannis of wanting "to start a political crisis".

The PSD won the parliamentary election earlier this month and hopes to form a coalition.

Dragnea withdrew his own bid to become prime minister because of his two-year suspended jail sentence for fraud in a previous election.

Shhaideh is considered a close friend of Dragnea, leading to speculation that she may become his "puppet" if she became prime minister.

"I have properly analysed the arguments for and against and I have decided not to accept this proposal," Iohannis said in a televised statement. 

"I call on the PSD coalition to make another proposal," he said.

Political commentators have speculated that Shhaideh Syrian-born husband may have been considered a security risk. A group of Romanian investigative journalists, the Rise Project, recently said that he had posted messages on social media in support of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The PSD nominated Shhaideh after its resounding election win on 11 December when its pledges to raise pensions and implement tax cuts secured it about 45% of the vote.

The election victory comes after public outrage over a nightclub fire in November 2015 which killed 64 people and triggered the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Ponta.

Many Romanians saw the fire, at Colectiv club in Bucharest, as the tipping point. The tragedy prompted a nationwide attempt to clean the country up.