Dispute Threatens Romanian Government

By: (CNN)
By: (CNN)
(CNN) -- Social Democratic Party ministers walked out of Romania

(AP Photo/Yves Logghe)

(CNN) -- Social Democratic Party ministers walked out of Romania's coalition government Thursday, the party said, threatening to leave the country without effective leadership.

The center-left party has been governing Romania in a coalition with the slightly larger centrist Liberal Democratic Party since elections at the end of 2008.

But the two parties have fallen out over remarks by the interior minister, a Social Democrat.

Dan Nica was fired this week by centrist Prime Minister Emil Boc after he made comments about the potential for fraud in presidential elections next month.

Social Democratic Party leader Mircea Geoana announced the mass resignation of his ministers in response after an emergency party meeting on Thursday.

"It's a political crisis triggered by the current president to create a distraction from the economic and social crisis in Romania," he told CNN.

Neither the Liberal Democratic Party nor President Traian Basescu had an immediate comment on the SDP move.

Romania, a formerly Communist country of about 21.5 million people, is a strong U.S. ally, contributing troops to the mission in Iraq and making its military bases available for U.S. use.

--CNN's Leona Siaw contributed to this report.

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