Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Basescu declared winner of Romanian election

By ALINA WOLFE MURRAY (AP)

BUCHAREST, Romania — The Constitutional Court on Monday declared Traian Basescu the winner of Romania's disputed presidential election.

The court ruled that Basescu had won a second term as president after days of uncertainty following a vote the opposition claimed was rigged.

The court said that Basescu had won the most votes in the Dec. 6 runoff. Election authorities finished re-examining some 138,000 voided ballots Monday, and decided the outcome of the election was not changed.

Basescu won 50.33 percent of the vote to defeat former Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, who won 49.67 percent.

Geoana's Social Democrats filed a motion last week alleging fraud. They claimed they had evidence of ballot-stuffing, multiple voting and widespread vote-buying, and asked for new elections to be held.

Monday's decision is expected to bring some stability to Romania which has been without a proper government since Oct. 13 when the government was dismissed by Parliament in a no-confidence vote.

Romania's president appoints the prime minister, who in turn will form the new government and set a budget.

Amid the uncertainty, a delegation from the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission arrived in Romania Monday to discuss a loan to the country that has been frozen following the political crisis.

The delegation is meeting Romanian authorities to discuss the 2010 budget, which has to be approved by Parliament and is crucial to the decision to free up a euro1.5 billion (US$2.2 billion) installment of an IMF loan. It will not release the money following this visit.

The IMF and the European Commission said a review mission could return in January, once a new cabinet has been formed and has set out its program.

The IMF, the EU and the World Bank put together a euro20 billion package in March to help Romania during the economic turmoil.

On Monday the Central Electoral Bureau said that 2,247 of the previously 138,000 void ballots were valid. Of the votes declared valid, 1,260 were cast for Basescu and 987 for Geoana.

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