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Romanian Candidate Calls for New Vote

Associated Press
Wednesday, December 1, 2004; Page A13

BUCHAREST, Romania, Nov. 30 -- The leader of Romania's opposition party demanded Tuesday that the results of weekend presidential and parliamentary elections be annulled because of fraud and that a new vote be held.

Traian Basescu, the who heads the centrist Justice and Truth Alliance, claimed that election authorities gave an extra 160,000 ballots, or 2.5 percent of the votes cast, to his main rival for the presidency, Prime Minister Adrian Nastase of the ruling Social Democratic Party.

"We have no doubt this is fraud. . . . We want the immediate dismissal of election authorities," Basescu said. "The entire electoral process is compromised. The repetition of the election is necessary."

With about 90 percent of votes counted Tuesday, Nastase won almost 41 percent and Basescu almost 34 percent, leading to a runoff vote set for Dec. 12.

Basescu said election authorities credited the Social Democrats with 100,000 spoiled ballots, and he accused the party of busing people around the country so they could vote multiple times.

There was no immediate reaction from the Social Democrats or election officials.

About 3,300 Romanians from the independent Pro Democracy Association and 50 foreign observers monitored the vote.

Romania's next president will lead the country as it implements economic and judicial reforms aimed at gaining E.U. membership by 2007. The president will take over from Ion Iliescu, who is stepping down after leading Romania for 11 of the 15 years since the communist dictatorship was overthrown.

Tuesday's results gave the governing party the lead in the parliamentary race with more than 36 percent of the vote, followed by the Justice and Truth Alliance with 31 percent. The results indicate the governing party would need to assemble a coalition in order to form a government.

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