Romanian minister resigns to protest vote pressure

AP News
Posted: Nov 10, 2014 9:43 AM
Romanian minister resigns to protest vote pressure

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania's foreign minister resigned Monday amid complaints that Romanians living abroad were unable to vote in the country's presidential election.

Romanians in Paris, London, Munich and elsewhere said they had to stand in line for hours and were unable to vote in the Nov. 2 election. In Romania, thousands of people protested against the government this weekend, saying it prevented expats — most of whom oppose the government — from voting.

Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean stepped down, saying he was being pressured ahead of the Nov. 16 presidential runoff to allow extra polling booths, which he claims would break the country's voting rules.

Commentator Cristian Tudor Popescu said Prime Minister Victor Ponta had made a mistake by making it difficult for Romanians to vote for a new leader — something now perceived as a fundamental right gained after the country's bloody 1989 anti-communist revolt.

The ministry announced Sunday it would send 800 officials to embassies and consular offices to help speed up expat voting but protests have continued.

Ponta replaced the foreign minister with ally Teodor Melescanu, the 73-year-old former head of Romania's foreign intelligence service, who also ran for president in the first round.

"We will ensure all the necessary conditions so that (people) can vote in and outside the country," Ponta said.

Ponta faces Klaus Iohannis, mayor of the central city of Sibiu, in the Nov. 16 runoff, which Ponta is expected to win.