Romanian president keeps army chief amid warship debate

December 28, 2018 GMT

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s president has extended the mandate of the army’s chief of staff for a year against the wishes of the government, which is allegedly in a dispute with him over the acquisition of warships.

President Klaus Iohannis on Friday convened the country’s top defense body to discuss the position of Gen. Nicolae Ciuca, whose mandate expires Dec. 31.

Defense Minister Gabriel Les recently said he would replace Ciuca when his mandate ended. But Iohannis rejected Les’ new proposal Friday, saying that nomination didn’t meet legal requirements.

Ciuca reportedly is at odds with the ruling Social Democratic Party over the acquisition of four warships. The government wants to buy them from the Netherlands but Ciuca thinks the deal is too expensive.

Romania has committed to upgrading its armed forces and equipment in the next decade.