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Romania: Presidential Candidates Continue To Spar

Bucharest, 14 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - Romania's two presidential candidates continued to spar during their third televised debate before Sunday's runoff election.

Center-right candidate Emil Constantinescu last night accused incumbent Ion Illiescu of intending to provoke discord before the election. Constantinescu said he based his accusation on Iliescu's campaign advertisements. The ads, he said, include a warning that Constantinescu's election might lead to a "federalization of the country" or to a "detachment of Transylvania as an autonomous territory."

During the TV debate -- the third of four scheduled before the poll -- Constantinescu said the ads are a desperate attempt to win by means of fear and fraud. Iliescu says a Constantinescu victory will lead to the reinstatement of the monarchy, the return of property to pre-war landlords, and a sharp increase in economic inequality.

Yesterday, thousands of Romanians attended a rally against Iliescu, who is struggling to be re-elected a third time. Iliescu has been in power since December 1989 when communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown and executed.