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Romanian President Takes Early Lead

THE first semiofficial results from Romania's general election showed President Ion Iliescu in the lead, confirming exit-poll forecasts.

Mr. Iliescu was leading in the presidential election with 42.2 percent, compared with 33.1 percent for the main opposition candidate, Emil Constantinescu, according to the estimate from the public National Statistics Board (NSB).

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The NSB estimate was based on ballot counting in 587 out of 14,611 polling stations.

Opposition groups are challenging the forecasts and hinting at a major electoral fraud.

The figures showed Iliescu's leftist supporters, the Democratic National Salvation Front party, leading with 22.5 percent of the vote for parliament's lower Chamber of Deputies and 23.9 percent of the vote for the Senate.

Mr. Constantinescu's Democratic Convention centrist opposition alliance was second - with 19.4 percent for the Chamber and 18.7 percent for the upper house, the Senate.

A runoff between the two top presidential contenders should be held in two weeks if candidates fall short of an overall majority.

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