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Romanian leader Traian Basescu 'heads for re-election'

Mircea Geoana, left, and Traian Basescu 3.12.09
A TV debate ended in smiles and handshakes despite a bitter campaign

Romania's President Traian Basescu is heading for re-election after Sunday's run-off, official figures suggest.

With 99% of ballots counted, Mr Basescu had won just over 50.3% of the vote in the second round, according to the country's election bureau.

Earlier, exit polls had predicted victory for his challenger, Former Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana.

Both candidates claimed victory on Sunday night in what correspondents describe as a bitter contest.

Mr Geoana told his jubilant supporters in Bucharest after the polls closed at 2100 local time (1900 GMT): "Our victory is the victory of all Romanians who want a better life. This is a beautiful night for Romanian democracy."

Centre-right President Basescu also claimed victory, saying exit polls were deceptive.

"I won. I assure you that... the correct polls showed that I was ahead of Mircea Geoana," he said.

"My voters need to stay calm and convinced that the counting of votes cannot be subject to fraud," he added.

Paralysis

The election campaign was fought against the backdrop of a serious economic crisis in Romania. It has also been marred by personal attacks and allegations.

One of the key roles of the next president will be to appoint a prime minister, as Romania has been led by a caretaker government since October.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has delayed the payment of part of a bail-out loan because of the current lack of effective government in Romania.

Analysts say corruption is still widespread, nearly three years after the country joined the EU.



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Financial TimesRomanian leader wins re-election - 13 mins ago
Reuters UK Romania's Basescu wins re-election, rival calls foul - 1 hr ago
AFP via Yahoo! Romanian president edges to surprise election win - 6 hrs ago
Telegraph Romanian presidential election: both candidates claim victory - 8 hrs ago
CBC Incumbent wins Romanian presidential runoff - 8 hrs ago
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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Financial TimesRomanian leader wins re-election - 13 mins ago
Reuters UK Romania's Basescu wins re-election, rival calls foul - 1 hr ago
AFP via Yahoo! Romanian president edges to surprise election win - 6 hrs ago
Telegraph Romanian presidential election: both candidates claim victory - 8 hrs ago
CBC Incumbent wins Romanian presidential runoff - 8 hrs ago
* Requires registration



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