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Caretaker PM Orban asked to head new Romanian government

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania's president on Friday asked the quarantined caretaker prime minister, who lost a confidence vote in parliament last month, to try to form a new government after opposition parties indicated that they would back him.

President Klaus Iohannis said he carried out consultations with the country's main political parties by teleconference because Ludovic Orban's entire caretaker government has self-isolated after a governing party senator was confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus.

Iohannis said all party officials assured him that the new Orban government would be approved and sworn in in record time, possibly as soon as Saturday. Earlier Friday, Orban told a news conference in parliament that he would be quarantined in a state-owned villa and the government would continue to carry out its duties, with the ministers, who are staying home, communicating by phone and email. The leadership of Orban's National Liberal Party and all its senators have also been asked to self-isolate.

Orban's center-right coalition government was ousted following a no-confidence motion on Feb. 5 and has remained in a caretaker role. It had only been in power since November, when it replaced a Social Democratic government beset by corruption scandals.

National elections are scheduled to be held in late 2020 or early 2021, but they could be held earlier if efforts to form a new government continue to fail.

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