After earlier being appointed as interim health secretary, Dr Raed Arafat (in picture) is to take on the role permanently. He was sworn in at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace yesterday evening (November 7 ). The previous health minister Vasile Cepoi resigned after allegations of his involvement in corruption at the beginning of October.
President Basescu, with whom Dr Arafat clashed in January this year over plans to part-privatize the emergency health services, attended the ceremony. In a rather crass move, the President offered Arafat both a Bible and a Koran, but the former under secretary for health chose to take the oath of office with his hand on the constitution. Basescu wished the new Minister of Health success, but also said he hoped the health law over which Arafat had resigned in January could be reintroduced before December.
Dr Raed Arafat resigned in protest January this year when Traian Basescu announced plans to privatize the emergency services. Dr Arafat was and remains a popular figure, and his resignation over the scheme to privatize the SMURD ambulance service that he had previously set up sparked the protests that brought down Emil Boc’s government. This defined the political landscape in 2012 and all the following drama could be said to have sprung from Arafat’s move.
Liam Lever, [email protected]
(photo source: gov.ro)