Romania's Geoana to respect court decision on appeal

Romanian leftist Geoana said that he would respect a court ruling on his challenge to the narrow presidential election victory of Basescu.

Romania's Geoana to respect court decision on appeal

Romanian leftist Mircea Geoana said on Wednesday that he would respect a court ruling on his challenge to the narrow presidential election victory of Traian Basescu, but would not work with Basescu afterwards.

Geoana, head of the leftist Social Democrats, has demanded a re-run of the Sunday election runoff, which he says Basescu, the centre-right incumbent, stole through "massive fraud".

But he said he would concede defeat if the Constitutional Court rejected his claim in a ruling expected by the weekend.

The dispute has delayed the replacement of a Basescu-allied government ousted in an October no-confidence vote, which has in turn delayed talks to unlock a stalled 20 billion euro ($29.50 billion) rescue deal for the European Union newcomer.

Sunday's poll was one of the most important since Romanians toppled and killed dictator Nicolae Ceausescu 20 years ago this month, because the victor can pick a head of government who will have up to three election-free years to implement long-delayed policies to help Bucharest catch up with the richer West.

The leu currency has lost 0.5 percent since the vote, and the Bucharest bourse is down some 6 percent.

"If the Constitutional Court says this thing was valid, then I'll recognise the next second that this is a reality and Traian Basescu will become president," Geoana, a former foreign minister and envoy to Washington, told reporters.

Analysts say the court will probably uphold results showing that Basescu, a former ship's captain who has campaigned against endemic corruption with patchy success, won the runoff by a razor-thin margin of 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent.

The new government's first task will be to pass a cost-cutting budget, demanded by the IMF in exchange for 1.5 billion euros in aid, which economists say will help the country of 22 million halt an expected 8 percent fall in GDP this year.

No cooperation

Romania, the EU's second poorest state, has lagged other new members of the bloc in public sector reform, and analysts say that if the political parties fail to work together, the country could stay at the back of the pack for years to come.

If the court confirms Sunday's results, the outspoken Basescu will try to name a prime minister who can create a government with his centre-right Democrat Liberal (PD-L) allies.

Geoana told foreign media he would like to continue a pre-vote alliance with the third-largest Liberal Party, giving them a two-thirds majority in parliament, and that there was no chance his party would join forces with the PD-L. "No, we will not cooperate with the PD-L," he said.

The Liberals met on Wednesday to decide whether they would consider a similar move. Liberal head Crin Antonescu has said a condition would be a prime minister from the party's ranks.

Geoana said the election runoff was marred by the "most massive electoral fraud ever orchestrated in this country" and listed what he said was evidence showing multiple voting, vote buying, and efforts to hide fraud.

Basescu owes his slim lead to votes from Romanians abroad. Data showed 79 percent of the 115,831 votes cast in countries like Spain, Italy and the United States went to Basescu, who beat Geoana by 70,000 of the 11 million votes cast.

In neighbouring Moldova, where Basescu has offered passports to hundreds of thousands of Romanian speakers, he won 95 percent of the votes cast.

"The idea that the diaspora has voted Traian Basescu is wrong," Geoana said. "We have evidence we are convinced will convince judges ... to call for a repetition of the second round."

Reuters
Last Mod: 09 Aralık 2009, 19:22
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