Romania court puts prez back in office

Romania’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday struck down a referendum to impeach President Traian Basescu, foiling a drive by the country’s leftist government to oust its chief political opponent just months before a parliamentary election.

The government said it would accept the decision but the acting president said Basescu was now an “illegitimate” leader.

The battle pitting Basescu against Prime Minister Victor Ponta has raised rule-of-law issues and could flare again in coming months as one of the European Union’s poorest states faces tough austerity demands from world lenders.

The court ruled that a July 29 referendum called by the government to remove the political veteran Basescu was invalid because turnout fell short of the required 50 per cent of the 18.3 million electorate.

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