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Romania: Former President Heads Opposition

Bucharest, 17 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - Former Romanian President Ion Iliescu was elected today head of the party he founded during the 1989 anti-Communist revolt, now the main opposition force in the country.

Iliescu, who is a member of parliament's upper chamber, the Senate, has said he will battle corruption within his Social Democracy party's ranks, and will transform it into a "constructive opposition."

Iliescu lost the state presidency to President Emil Constantinescu in a runoff in November. His loss was partly attributed to public concern over corruption in his party, which also caused its defeat in general elections.

Iliescu told the party conference today in Bucharest that poor management of the economy and slow economic reform led to the party's downfall.

Meanwhile, the central bank reported further grim economic news today, saying the leu had fallen by 20 percent against the dollar since the start of the new year.