Mon, 17 Jun 2019

Moldovan acting President Pavel Filip has dissolved parliament and called snap elections for September 6 as the former Soviet country faces a political crisis.

Filip made the announcement on June 9, shortly after the Constitutional Court suspended pro-Russian President Igor Dodon and named Filip, who is the acting prime minister, as acting president.

Dodon has been frequently at odds with Filip and his government, which favors closer ties with the EU and the United States.

Hundreds of people have taken to streets in the capital, Chisinau, since June 8 to protest against Dodon and to support the Constitutional Court's ruling. The rally is organized by the Democratic Party, led by Vlad Plahotniuc, Moldova's richest person.

Filip's announcement comes a day after parliamentary leaders met in an extraordinary session in the latest attempt to form a government following inconclusive elections in February.

The Socialist Party and the pro-European right-center ACUM bloc, which together control 61 seats out of 101, convened the June 8 session, at which they signed an agreement on political cooperation and approved a new government.

However, the Constitutional Court the same day responded affirmatively to a request by the Democratic Party, which controls 30 mandates, to nullify the proceedings.

Representatives of the Democratic Party and the Socialist Party on June 7 failed to reach an agreement on cooperation. A spokesman for the Democratic Party said it would not recognize the decisions of the extraordinary session.

The rump parliament voted to approve Socialist Party leader Zenaida Greceanii as parliament speaker and voted on other key parliamentary leadership posts.

In addition, ACUM co-Chairwoman Maia Sandu was approved as prime minister. ACUM co-Chairman Andrei Nastase was named deputy prime minister and interior minister.

Vasile Sova, President Igor Dodon's adviser on reintegration, was named deputy prime minister for reintegration. Academic and political analyst Nicolae Popescu was named minister for foreign affairs and European integration.

Sandu said her government's program consisted of 'the country's liberation from the oligarchical system,' 'the restoration of the economy and cooperation with the International Monetary Fund,' and 'the fight against corruption and poverty.'

The Constitutional Court almost immediately issued a statement invalidating the proceedings.

'The court finds the decision of June 8, 2019, taken by the members of the 10th parliament to elect Zinaida Greceanii to the post of speaker of parliament to be unconstitutional,' the court's statement said.

The court also declared all future decisions of the parliament invalid as well.

Dodon, the former head of the Socialist Party, attended the extraordinary session to support the last-minute effort to form a government.

The office of European Union foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini issued a statement calling for 'calm and restraint,' adding that 'the European Union expects the Republic of Moldova...to respect the rule of law and guarantee democracy.'

Peter Michalko, the European Union ambassador to Moldova, posted on Facebook that 'democratically elected representatives should decide the outcome of the political process.'

Under Moldovan law, if parliament fails to form a government within three months of the certification of election results, the president can dissolve the legislature and call new elections.

The February elections were certified on March 9, and analysts have assumed that the deadline for forming a new government was June 9.

However, on June 7 the Constitutional Court ruled that the deadline was actually June 7, 90 days after the certification.

In addition, there is a dispute about whether the president must dissolve parliament. The Constitutional Court ruled that he must, while Dodon argues that the president has the option of allowing continued efforts to form a government.

The Democratic Party has said they will ask the Supreme Court to rule on the matter.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis issued a statement urging all political forces in Moldova to respect democracy and the rule of law.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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