World Bulletin/News Desk
Romania's suspended president Traian Basescu urged Romanians on Friday to boycott a July 29 referendum that polls show will remove him from office.
Basescu had initially urged Romanians to vote to defeat what he called a coup d'etat, but his stance gradually shifted this week when he and his Democrat Liberal allies said they were increasingly concerned about the possibility of electoral fraud.
"I am asking Romanians not to participate in this referendum behind which some irresponsible politicians are trying to hide a coup," Basescu told reporters at his headquarters on the last day of the campaign.
He said he had reasons to suspect the ruling leftist Social Liberal Union (USL) of Prime Minister Victor Ponta would try to rig the vote, citing a longer voting period, unclear voter lists that would make multiple votes easier and a government move to set up extra voting polls in restaurants, bars and hotels.
Ponta's USL suspended Basescu this month, saying the rightist president had overstepped his powers. Basescu, in turn, accused the USL of trying to stage a coup and take control of independent institutions.
Basescu and anti-graft experts say Ponta's rush to oust him may be linked to a string of corruption investigations, including the conviction of Adrian Nastase, a former prime minister and mentor to Ponta.
Polls indicate Sunday's vote will be in favour of impeaching Basescu, who is deeply unpopular after of backing austerity measures and accusations of cronyism, but turnout of at least half the electorate is required to make the result valid.
The turnout requirement - set by a Constitutional Court ruling which the USL initially tried to ignore - gives Basescu a fighting chance, after the opposition Democrat Liberals also asked their supporters not to vote.
That and timing - during what is traditionally a holiday month - could cut turnout, which was 56 percent in local June elections, below half.
Interim president Crin Antonescu, who co-runs the USL with Ponta, said referendum preparations have been above board, and asked Romanians to vote.
"The right to vote is citizens' fundamental way of participating," he told reporters.
The USL and Ponta have had a dressing down from Brussels on concerns about undermining the rule of law, intimidating judges and removing officials in their bid to oust Basescu.
The government accuses Basescu of having undue influence over the judiciary. Prosecutors have notched up a series of convictions and the EU has demanded that it prosecute and jail senior figures to prove it is serious about corruption.
The USL tried to change laws to its advantage and threatened to replace Constitutional Court judges and limit the Court's powers before backing down. It also defied a court decision.
"I will not vote because the USL have tried to change everything so that they could win," said Adrian Oanta, a 21-year-old student after a rally in support of Basescu.
"Since they came to power they have done nothing to get Romania out of the (economic) crisis," he said.
Romania, hit hard by the debt crisis in the euro zone - eastern Europe's main trade and banking partner - remains the European Union's second-poorest member.
Lieberman, who has helped to mastermind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policy of closer relations with Russia, made no apology for the government's fence-sitting on Ukraine
Mariupol, an industrial port city of nearly half a million people, is one of a series of flashpoints across eastern Ukraine
Wade's impending return has heightened tensions in one of Africa's most stable democracy
Women and children are among the group, some of whom suffer from poor health.
EU leaders consider the takeover as illegal and have asked the EU executive arm, the European Commission, to propose economic, trade and financial restrictions on Crimea for rapid implementation.
The Greens criticised the scale of Germany's defence equipment sales to Russia and urged Berlin to push for a European-wide embargo on arms sales to the country.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said "We are forced to react to such a development of the situation."
Preliminary results based on 82.6 percent of the vote from the 34 provinces showed Abdullah in the lead with 43.8 percent, followed by Ghani with 32.9 percent
The Asian Development Bank said around 733 million people in Asia-Pacific live on US$1.25 a day - the extreme poverty threshold.
Costa Rica condemned an alleged US campaign against Cuba communist regime being conducted from San Jose.
Sanogo charged to a more serious charge of conspiracy to murder which carries the death penalty in the West African nation
The violence in the central African state, the size of France, has mainly pitted Kiir's Dinka people against Machar's Nuer. Thousands have been killed and more than one million people uprooted from their homes.
It was not the first time a tourist with such a tattoo has run into trouble in Sri Lanka. In 2013, authorities denied entry to a British man for his tattoo of Buddha.
Several of Washington's key European allies support an investigation into the latest claims of chlorine gas use
Egypt's military said the army had destroyed more than 1,500 tunnels that ran under the frontier between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, which borders North Sinai, in an attempt to stop the illegal flow of arms
"Rising violent extremism is an enormous challenge first for Libya but also for Libya's international partners," Burns told a news conference after talks in the capital Tripoli.