Wednesday, September 2, 2009

AP: Ex-Romanian president ties incumbent to Communists

A former Romanian president has launched a stinging attack on the current president, Traian Basescu, urging voters not to re-elect him because he had close ties the country's former Communist dictators.

In a letter published Tuesday in Romanian newspapers, former President Emil Constantinescu alleged that Basescu was in the second tier of the Communist party leadership during the brutal regime of former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, but had managed to falsely portray himself as anti-communist.

The issue of involvement with the Communists has resonance in Romania, which suffered under a brutal regime between 1945 and 1989, when Ceausescu was overthrown and executed.

The Communist government ruled largely through fear instilled by the Securitate secret police. So-called "enemies of state" were killed, imprisoned or sent to forced labor camps.

Basescu, who has been president since 2004, is expected to run for a second five-year term in elections Nov. 22, although he has made no formal announcement.He acknowledges having been a Communist. During the 2004 presidential campaign, he told his opponent, Adrian Nastase, that it was a shame that Romanians "had to choose between two former party members."But Basescu has said his links with the former Securitate were minimal, though some contact was obligatory at the time for somebody working abroad in a senior position. In 1984 Basescu was appointed captain of the largest ship in the Romanian commercial fleet, and in 1989 he moved to Belgium to head the Romanian state shipping company in Antwerp.

Constantinescu, who was president from 1996 to 2000, called on people to support Liberal Party candidate Crin Antonescu, a former history teacher who was sports minister from 1997 to 2000.

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