BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania's Constitutional Court will decide on August 31 if a referendum to impeach the president is valid, it said on Friday, bringing the decision forward by nearly two weeks and shortening a period of limbo that is weighing on markets.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta's leftist Social Liberal Union has suspended centre-right President Traian Basescu and wants him removed permanently. The European Union has criticized the move and raised doubts over Romania's International Monetary Fund aid deal.
The court had been expected to invalidate Sunday's referendum after official data showed that while a majority of those voting wanted to dismiss the president, turnout did not reach a required 50 percent threshold.
But in a move that pushed the Romanian leu to new lows against the euro, the court said on Thursday it was delaying the decision until September 12 because of conflicting data on the size of the electorate.
The court said on Friday it would now consider the issue on August 31 as it should have all the data by then. Ponta's ally Crin Antonescu will remain interim president until then.
Preliminary results of a 2011 census suggested there could be fewer voters than the 18.3 million on the electoral roll used for the referendum. If more than a million are struck off, it could push turnout above 50 percent, although that would raise questions over the rules the referendum was held under.
The IMF is in Bucharest to review the aid deal. The political row has delayed policy-making and raised questions about how closely Romania is sticking to the terms of the deal.
(Reporting by Ioana Patran; Editing by Janet Lawrence)