BUCHAREST (Reuters) - A recount of annulled votes in Romania's presidential election failed to overturn the incumbent Traian Basescu's victory, the country's central election bureau said on Sunday.
Basescu won the December 6 runoff by around 70,000 votes against leftist challenger Mircea Geoana, who contested the result at the Constitutional Court saying the election was marred by fraud.The court asked for a recount of more than 138,000 annulled votes by Monday at 1300 GMT. The bureau has so far recounted over 137,000 votes. It found 2,137 of those were valid and 1,169 were in favour of Basescu, while 968 were cast for Geoana.
A constitutional court decision to validate the outcome is still pending, but analysts have said there was little chance Geoana's appeal would succeed.The court challenge has prolonged a months-long crisis that began after the leftist Social Democrats and other opposition parties downed a Basescu-allied centre-right government in October.
The decision is key to kick off political negotiations to form a government.Basescu's Democrat Liberals invited the leftists' former ally, the Liberals, for talks to form a ruling alliance, but they rejected any negotiation before a court decision.
The next president must name a replacement for Prime Minister Emil Boc, whose government is still ruling with limited powers until it can be replaced, and jump-start a stalled 20 billion euro ($29.70 billion) international aid deal.An International Monetary Fund mission will visit Romania on Monday for up to three days to discuss the 2010 budget plan, key to unlocking a 1.5 billion euros aid tranche of the deal, originally planned for December.
The disbursement is vital for easing Romania's financing difficulties and calm market worries over the country's fiscal imbalances.