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Moldovan opposition vows to boycott recount

Published on 15/04/2009

Chisinau -- Moldova's opposition said Tuesday that it would boycott a "farcical" recount of disputed parliamentary elections, a week after protests against the Communist victory turned violent.

Leaders of three main opposition parties blasted the planned recount as a sham designed to cover up numerous violations and perpetuate the rule of the Communist Party, led by President Vladimir Voronin.

"The recount is a farce which the Communists thought up in order to legalise violations that occurred during the election," Serafim Urechean, head of the Our Moldova party, told reporters.

"The opposition will not participate in the recount," he added, speaking at a joint press conference with leaders of two other opposition parties.

Earlier this week, elections officials said they would conduct the recount Wednesday and finish it in one day, while Voronin said the recount would restore stability and trust in the country’s political system.

The leaders of Our Moldova, the Liberal Party and the Liberal Democratic Party alleged that massive fraud occurred during the April 5 vote in Moldova, an impoverished ex-Soviet republic wedged between Ukraine and Romania.

"While checking the electoral lists, we determined that people who were long dead had voted in the election," said Vlad Filat, leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Filat put the number of ballots cast by dead voters at 400,000 and added: "Underage people and citizens who have lived abroad for many years were also included in the voting lists and cast ballots."

Meanwhile Mihai Ghimpu, head of the Liberal Party, said: "We know that bags of ballots are being stored in some site at the Central Elections Commission. We cannot rule out that ballots will be swapped."

Together the three parties won around 35 percent of the vote, compared to about 50 percent won by the Communists, according to preliminary results released by elections officials.

That gave the Communist Party 60 out of 101 seats in the parliament, just one short of the 61 needed for the party to fully control the selection of Moldova’s next president.

In Moldova the parliament selects the president, and Voronin is due to step down shortly after the end of his second term.

"For us it is clear that the Communists are now searching for one more seat which according to preliminary results they need in order to unilaterally select the president," Ghimpu said.

Allegations that the Communist Party had falsified the vote sparked massive street demonstrations last week, including one in which young protestors stormed and ransacked parliament.

Opposition representatives have previously demanded a new vote. Western observers have said the election met "many international standards" but also identified some problems.

Predominantly agricultural, Moldova is Europe’s poorest country in terms of per capita income, and its economy depends heavily on remittances from Moldavians working abroad.

Anatoly Golya/AFP/Expatica