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NEW CHIEF WAS ONCE CEAUSESCU HEIR APPARENT

SHARE NEW CHIEF WAS ONCE CEAUSESCU HEIR APPARENT

Ion Iliescu, the new president of Romania, is a career bureaucrat and close friend of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev who spent most of his career as heir apparent to dictator Nicolae Ceausescu before being demoted in the early 1970s.

Before being named Romania's second leader in 24 years Tuesday, Iliescu, 59, held a minor job at a Bucharest publishing house.He was considered a rising star in his country's communist leadership until being expelled from the country's Central Party by Ceausescu in 1971.

Analysts believe the outspoken Iliescu was ousted because he posed a threat to Ceausescu, Romania's self-proclaimed leader for life. Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were convicted in a secret trial Monday of genocide and other charges and executed.

Iliescu received a degree in business administration in Romania and later studied hydrology at Moscow University, where he is believed to have met Gorbachev.

Iliescu went on to hold numerous Central Committee posts, building a reputation as a Ceausescu loyalist. He rose quickly through party ranks, becoming minister of youth problems, a post he held from 1967 to 1972.

In the early 1970s, when Iliescu was minister of youth, Ceausescu apparently realized he may have created a monster. Iliescu quickly was demoted to non-essential posts and sent in 1974 to a remote region along the Soviet border.

On Friday, Iliescu appeared on national television to announce the formation of the provisional government. He later announced to a cheering crowd the arrest of his former mentor and said the dictator soon would be brought to justice.

Two days later, national television announced Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, had been executed by a firing squad.