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Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:53AM
Romanian President Traian Basescu

Romanian President Traian Basescu

Thousands of Romanians have gathered in central Bucharest in support of President Traian Basescu, as rivals seek his impeachment in a referendum vote. Rivals accuse Basescu, 60, of violating the country’s constitution by interfering in parliamentary affairs and using security services against his political opponents. The vote is set for Sunday. However, the leader has called the entire impeachment process a political move by the opposition aiming to gain control of European Union (EU) funds and Romania’s justice system. Romania is one of the bloc's newest members. Earlier this month, some 256 of the Romanian parliament’s 372 deputies voted to impeach the leader. Over the past weeks, Romanians have been pouring into the streets of downtown Bucharest to celebrate the news of Basescu’s impeachment, while others have staged rallies in support of the beleaguered president. Basescu was also impeached in 2007, but survived in a referendum. However this time, with his approval ratings dramatically lower than five years ago, the Romanian president is in serious danger of being forced out of office. Political unrest began to escalate back in May, when his rival, Prime Minister Victor Ponta came to power. SZH/MA
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