Romania court delays impeachment decision

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Aug. 2, 2012, 6:01 p.m. | World — by Reuters

In this Friday, July 6, 2012 file photo, Romanian President Traian Basescu prepares to address the country's parliament prior to a vote to impeach him in Bucharest, Romania.
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BUCHAREST - Romania's Constitutional Court delayed a decision on the validity of a referendum on impeaching the president until September, the court said on Thursday, an unexpected twist that would deepen Romania's political crisis.

The European Union has criticised leftist Prime Minister Victor Ponta's tactics in trying to ensure the centre-right President Traian Basescu was removed from office and demanded the government respect Constitutional Court decisions.

The row between Ponta and Basescu has delayed policymaking in the EU's second-poorest member state and raised doubts over Romania's International Monetary Fund-led aid deal, sending the leu currency to record lows.

Official data showed voter turnout at Sunday's referendum did not reach a required 50 percent level and the decision on Basescu's impeachment was delayed until Sept. 12.

Final results of Sunday's vote showed 88 percent of those who voted wanted Basescu, unpopular for his links with austerity and perceptions of cronyism, removed from office.

"If you're asking me, the referendum should have been annulled," Constitutional Court judge Aspazia Cojocaru told reporters outside the court. "Everything was based on fake data."

Members of Ponta's Social Liberal Union (USL) have suggested the true number of voters was smaller, based on new preliminary census data, and hence turnout would beat the threshold.

The leu extended losses after news of the delay and traded 0.4 percent lower against the euro on the day.

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