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7 Dec, 2009 12:44

Communists in Moldova sabotage presidential vote

Moldova’s parliament has failed to elect a president after the opposition refused to support the sole presidential candidate Marian Lupu. Thus, the political crisis in the eastern European country is going to continue.

On Monday, prior to the scheduled vote, the nominee of the ruling Alliance for European Integration – which unites the Democratic Party, the Liberal Party, the Liberal Democrats and Our Moldova party – presented his program to the parliament.

Lupu vowed to “open a new page” in the settlement of the Trans-Dniester conflict and to resume the “5+2” (Moldova, Trans-Dniester, Ukraine, Russia, the OSCE and monitors from the US and the EU) talks on the breakaway region.

Trans-Dniester has been seeking independence from Moldova since the final days of the Soviet Union. The region has a predominantly Russian and Ukrainian population, with Moldavians a considerable minority. In late 1980, the local authorities in Moldova sought closer ties with Romania, and Trans-Dniester's population – which feared discrimination – launched a campaign of civil disobedience.

The tension erupted into armed conflict, which was stopped by Russian peacekeepers. The region's peace process is sponsored by Ukraine, Russia, the European Union, the United States and the OSCE. So far Trans-Dniester is not recognised as an independent state by any major country.

However, despite Lupu’s promises to address the issue of the disputed region in Eastern Europe, the opposition – the Communist party – refused to vote for the candidate and decided not to take part in the election.

In a declaration read out by the Communists’ leader, Maria Postoico, it was explained that the decision is a sign of protest against the alliance’s policies. In addition, the former comrades apparently couldn’t forgive Lupu – a former communist – for his “betrayal”.

Earlier, the opposition leader and former Moldovan president Vladimir Voronin said that communists wouldn’t vote for Lupu because they want the parliament to be dissolved and snap elections held.

The state leader in Moldova is elected by the country’s parliament. 61 votes are required for the president to be elected. The coalition has 53 mandates and the communists – 48, therefore without the opposition support the ruling alliance cannot choose the head of the state.

"I believe that a way out of the political collapse in the country could be brought about by a referendum on constitutional changes," Marian Lupu told RIA Novosti on Monday.

December 7 vote has become the third time this year that the former Soviet sate was trying to elect a president.

After the disputed parliamentary election in April this year followed by violent protests in the capital Chisinau, the Communists' candidate twice failed to get the required votes. As a result, snap elections were held in July and brought a liberal-democratic coalition to power.

Now, after the presidential election attempt has failed one again, snap elections will be held in 2010, since according to Moldovan law, the parliament cannot be dissolved more than once a year.