June 22, 2015 / 4:23 PM / in 3 years

Interim PM named to replace hospitalized Ponta

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania’s president appointed deputy premier Gabriel Oprea as interim prime minister on Monday, temporarily replacing Victor Ponta, who is recovering from knee surgery in Istanbul.

Ponta said last week he would not be able to perform his duties for the next 28 days after undergoing surgery and asked President Klaus Johannis to name Oprea until he can return.

The premier left Romania last Monday without telling the president. Last month, Ponta said he suffered a minor injury to his left leg while playing basketball. TV footage showed him limping.

Earlier this month, anti-corruption prosecutors named Ponta in criminal inquiries into forgery, money-laundering, tax evasion and conflict of interest.

He denies wrongdoing and says the accusations were made by political enemies. He rejected calls by Iohannis to resign.

Romania’s parliament blocked a criminal investigation into conflict of interest against him on June 9, prompting renewed criticism of the European Union member state’s commitment to fighting high-level corruption.

Reporting by Radu Marinas; Editing by Larry King

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