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Last Updated: Monday, 20 October, 2003, 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK
Three Romanian ministers quit
Prime Minister Adrian Nastase
Nastase wants to concentrate on negotiations for EU membership
Three ministers in the Romanian Government have been forced out over corruption allegations.

Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said the three had resigned, but according to other reports he fired them.

The three include European Integration Minister Hildegard Puwak, who was under European Union investigation for possible misuse of EU funds.

Health Minister Mircea Beuran and Government Co-ordination Minister Serban Mihailescu have also gone.

Their departures follow a weekend poll on bringing the country's constitution into line with EU laws, to advance its membership bid.

They resigned to eliminate suspicions and the risk that the government will be forced to explain minor issues instead of taking care of important matters
Adrian Nastase
Romanian Prime Minister
"I have accepted the resignations of these three ministers who wanted to avoid creating any problems for the government" in its EU bid, Mr Nastase told reporters.

"They resigned to eliminate suspicions and the risk that the government will be forced to explain minor issues instead of taking care of important matters," he added.

The resignations came after a series of accusations in the media that they initiated or tolerated corruption, although the government backed them during the referendum campaign.

Despite fears of a low turnout, the two-day vote was declared valid with more than 50% taking part.

Vote of confidence

With around 90% of votes counted, nearly 90% of voters appear to have approved changing their constitution to bring it into line with the laws of the EU which Romania hopes to join by 2007.

Official results are not expected until next week.

Correspondents say many voters viewed the ballot as a vote of confidence in the government and that there may have been some reluctance to vote because successive cabinets have failed to raise the standard of living years after the collapse of communism.




SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Romania
08 Oct 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Romania
18 Oct 03  |  Country profiles


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