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Romanian PM replaces ministers in cabinet reshuffle

Leftist Prime Minister Victor Ponta, leader of the ruling Social Liberal Union, speaks during a rally in Craiova, 248 kilometres west of Bucharest, July 20, 2012. — Photo by Reuters

BUCHAREST: Romania's leftist Prime Minister Victor Ponta replaced his justice, foreign and three other ministers in a cabinet reshuffle on Monday, saying he wanted to change the government's strategy after his interior minister quit.

Ponta's Social Liberal Union (USL) is embroiled in a battle to oust suspended President Traian Basescu, which has stalled policymaking, plunged the leu currency to record lows, raised concerns over Romania's IMF-led aid deal and drawn criticism from abroad.

The Constitutional Court has postponed a decision on whether to validate a July 29 referendum to impeach Basescu in which a majority agreed with his dismissal but failed to reach the required 50 per cent turnout threshold.

Earlier on Monday, Interior Minister Ioan Rus resigned, citing political pressure in the wake of the Court's postponement. Ponta replaced him, along the public administration minister, the foreign and justice ministers, and the minister in charge of parliament relations.

“I hope that by the end of this evening they will be sworn in,” Ponta told reporters.

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