Romanian PM says he will run for president

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The Independent Online

The Romanian Prime Minister, Adrian Nastase, ended months of speculation yesterday by saying he would run for president in the November elections to oversee the country's entry into the EU, planned for 2007.

The Romanian Prime Minister, Adrian Nastase, ended months of speculation yesterday by saying he would run for president in the November elections to oversee the country's entry into the EU, planned for 2007.

"I decided to allow no more doubts concerning my running," Mr Nastase, 54, said during a visit to the north-eastern county of Suceava in a live interview with state radio. He was expected to run for president before today's announcement.

Mr Nastase is seeking to replace Ion Iliescu, a 74-year-old former Communist official who is barred by the constitution froma third four-year term.

The Romanian constitution gives the president more powers than in countries in Western Europe, including a veto over laws adopted by parliament. If elected, Mr Nastase would have to give up his post as head of the Social Democratic Party.

Mr Nastase has said his top priority was to help Romania become a member of the EU in 2007. His main opponent is Theodor Stolojan, the head of the National Liberal Party, a former prime minister in the early 1990s and a former economist at the World Bank who accuses Mr Nastase and his party of corruption and bureaucracy.

Mr Nastase's party candidates scored worse than they expected in recent local elections, with both his foreign and interior ministers, Mircea Geoana and Ioan Rus, losing to opposition candidates.

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