Breakaway Transdniestr's leader wants vote scrapped

12th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

The long-serving president of Moldova's separatist Transdniestr region on Monday demanded the cancellation of weekend polls as he faced the prospect of failing to win a first-round majority.

Igor Smirnov appealed to the central election commission of the breakaway region, citing "numerous violations during the campaign and on election day," the official Olviya-Press news agency reported.

Smirnov, 70, was one of six candidates running in the presidential election after leading the largely lawless region of ex-Soviet Moldova since 1991.

However the chairman of the commission Vladimir Chukhnenko was quoted as saying by the agency that no candidate had so far passed the 50 percent threshold with some 80 percent of votes counted.

The commission will announce its decision on Smirnov's appeal on Wednesday, Chukhnenko told the agency.

Transdniestr is a small, mainly Russian-speaking region in eastern Moldova that is used by Russia to station troops. It has a population of some 500,000.

Russia has fallen out with the leadership of Smirnov and thrown its support behind a rival candidate, local parliament chairman Anatoly Kaminsky. It has also initiated a criminal probe against Smirnov's son over corruption.

Transdniestr declared independence from Romanian-speaking Moldova in 1990 and won a brief civil war. But its independence has not been recognised internationally.

In 2006, 97 percent of its population voted in a referendum that they would be prepared to join as part of Russia.

© 2011 AFP

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