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Romanian Opposition Demands Repeat Elections

Bucharest Mayor and opposition presidential candidate Basescu (left) is demanding new balloting (file photo) 30 November 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Romania's centrist opposition today demanded a repeat of general and presidential elections that showed the ruling ex-communists slightly ahead, citing alleged electronic fraud in the vote-counting process.

Bucharest Mayor Traian Basescu, who is the leader of the centrist National Liberal Party-Democratic Party alliance, told a news conference that electronic vote-counting fraud affected more than 160,000 votes and said that "the repetition of the election is necessary."

Basescu also demanded that the central electoral bureau be dismissed and those responsible for the fraud be arrested.

"[We publicly demand that] the Central Election Bureau, a participant in the fraud prepared by the ruling Social Democrat Party for the 28 November election, be immediately fired. We publicly demand that the director who prepared the computer software used in the fraud be immediately arrested," Basescu said.

With nearly 90 percent of the 28 November vote counted, the ruling ex-communist Social Democratic Party was ahead with 37 percent, followed closely by Basescu's alliance with more than 31 percent. The difference amounted to about 470,000 votes.

In the presidential race, Prime Minister Adrian Nastase was ahead with almost 41 percent of the vote, while Basescu had almost 34 percent, suggesting a runoff would be required between those two men.

There was no immediate reaction from the Social Democrats to Basescu's demand.