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ILIESCU OFFERS TO FORM A COALITION; OPPOSITION PLANS TO CONTEST VOTE

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Victorious presidential candidate Ion Iliescu offered Tuesday to form a coalition with losing parties, but one opposition leader ruled out the idea and another said he planned to challenge the vote.

At least two observer groups questioned the legitimacy of Iliescu's victory in Romania's first democratic elections in a half-century, and the head of one group said Western governments should refrain from granting aid to Romania.With 11.4 million ballots counted Tuesday morning, Iliescu of the National Salvation Front had 87 percent of the vote in Sunday's three-way presidential race, according to the Central Electoral Bureau. Radu Campeanu of the National Liberal Party had 9.5 percent and Ion Ratiu of the National Peasants Party had 3.48 percent. More than 85 percent of the 16 million eligible voters cast ballots.

Iliescu told the French TV network TF-1 that he would support an investigation into the election. He said any examination would show the Front had won fairly.

In a conciliatory gesture, Iliescu said he would seek to form a coalition with the defeated opposition parties and would offer his opponents representation in the government based on their electoral showing.

But Campeanu, appearing on the French broadcast after Iliescu, ruled out a coalition, saying minority views could not possibly be heard in a government overwhelmingly dominated by one party.

Ratiu, the Peasants Party candidate, said Monday the elections were riddled by fraud, and he plans to challenge the results in court. "We will contest the election," Ratiu told a news conference. "We will ask for them to be considered null and void."