Romanian president rejects party amid leadership row

Romanian President Traian Basescu said Sunday he was no longer interested in the country's main opposition party, the Liberal Democrats (PDL), and would form a new movement after a leadership row divided the centre-right party.

The PDL, which was battered by the ruling Social-Liberal Union (USL) in parliamentary elections on December 9, was riven by a leadership vote Saturday that saw former interior minister Vasile Blaga re-elected to head the party amid accusations of fraud by ex-tourism minister Elena Udrea, the runner-up.

Basescu, who led the party until 2004 before handing over the reins after being elected president on the PDL ticket, announced he would not return to the party when his term ends next year because of the row.

"I'm going to dedicate myself to building another solution for the right wing, with honest people... who accept the democratic right to contest (an election)," he said in a video posted on Facebook.

The PDL led the country for eight years before the December 2012 elections, but was punished by voters angry over two years of harsh austerity measures.

It took just 16 percent of the vote compared with 60 percent for the centre-left coalition.

Basescu survived an attempt by the USL to unseat him last year, but is still stuck navigating a rocky relationship with his arch-rival, Prime Minister Victor Ponta.