Moldovan presidential election postponed

29th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

Presidential election takes a back seat to the Christian holiday of Ascension and will be held on 3 June instead.

Chisinau – The Moldovan parliament on Thursday voted to defer electing the country's president until 3 June, amid a logjam between the ruling Communists and the opposition following a disputed parliamentary poll.

The 101-member parliament had been due to vote Thursday on electing a new president but all 60 deputies from the Communist Party voted to delay the poll while the opposition's 41 deputies refused to participate.

The leader of the Communist grouping in parliament, Maria Postoico, said the postponement was due to the important Orthodox Christian holiday of Ascension, which marks Jesus' ascension to heaven after his crucifixion.

"Today is a great religious holiday and it would be unacceptable for members of parliament to fight each other on this day," Postoico said.

The decision was condemned by Vlad Filat, leader of the Liberal Democrats, one of three opposition parties in parliament.

"The day's agenda had been approved. You can't change it because of a religious holiday," he told lawmakers.

"Society is expecting a solution," Filat added, referring to the political crisis that has gripped Moldova ever since a disputed parliamentary election in April led to bloody riots.

Young protestors stormed and ransacked the parliament building in central Chisinau in April to protest the election results, which the opposition says were marred by widespread fraud.

Under Molodovan law the parliament chooses the president, and the Communist Party has chosen Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii as its favoured candidate.

If elected, she would succeed President Vladimir Voronin, who has ruled the impoverished east European country since 2001, and would become the first woman president in the ex-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region.

But a candidate needs 61 votes to become president, and the Communists are one seat short of that number, while the opposition has been determined to boycott the vote in parliament in protest at April's election.

The three opposition parties in parliament walked out of a previous vote last week in which the Communists tried to elect Greceanii.

If parliament cannot choose a president, under Moldovan law the country will need to hold new elections – an outcome that the opposition has been pushing for.

AFP / Expatica

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