CHISINAU, January 4. /TASS/. The Parliament of Moldova will meet on Monday in a special session to discuss the programme and membership of the country’s new government. Candidate for prime minister Ion Sturza who was nominated by President Nicolae Timofti will present the programme.
"Our main task is to get for Moldova the status of a candidate country for EU membership. To this end, over the next 1.5 years we commit ourselves to implement the provisions of the Association Agreement signed with the European Union," Sturza said, presenting last weekend the new Cabinet’s programme and membership. He said he supported the expansion of cooperation with Romania and NATO, the "strategic dialogue" with the United States, "the strengthening of multi-dimensional strategic good neighbourly relations with Ukraine." Relations with Russia were the seventh point in the document. According to Sturza, "It is necessary to step up political dialogue with Russia for the normalization of bilateral relations in the economic, trade, migration and energy spheres."
The candidate for prime minister promised to focus on the fight against corruption in order to investigate the high-profile corruption scandal over the embezzlement of $1 billion from the country's banking system, which has caused mass protests and resignation of two governments and another collapse of the ruling pro-European coalition.
The structure of the Moldovan Cabinet has not changed much, three posts of vice prime ministers and 17 ministries are preserved in it. It includes representatives of non-governmental organizations and business. Thus, the candidate proposed for the post of vice prime minister, minister of foreign affairs and European integration is head of the Foreign Policy Association Victor Chirila, for the post of defence minister - political analyst Viorel Cibotaru, who has held this position for three months at the beginning of last year. Former Deputy Prosecutor General Alexandr Stoianoglu is proposed for the interior minister’s post, and for the post of vice prime minister for reintegration - a diplomat, former ambassador in Kiev Ion Stavila. The leaders of the Platform DA (Dignity and Truth), which conducts an indefinite protest action in the centre of Chisinau since September 6 last year, are proposed as government members; it has been proposed to appoint Stanislav Pavlovsky as the justice minister and Alexander Slusar - as the agriculture minister. A number of candidates for ministers are not known to the general public.
Almost all Moldovan experts agree that Sturza's Cabinet will not gain the required majority of 51 out of 101 votes. Only deputies of the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) and the Liberal Party, which had 18 and 13 mandates, respectively, support him. The largest parliamentary faction of the Party of Socialists, which has 24 seats, said it would boycott the parliamentary session. The Democratic Party, the Party of Communists and deputies of the Social Democratic platform that withdrew from it - together they have 43 more votes, are also against Sturza’s Cabinet.
Sturza told reporters on the eve of the voting that if the parliament does not support his cabinet, the country will face early parliamentary elections in which he intends to take part. "I’ve talked to the ambassadors accredited in Moldova - they do not regard early elections as a danger. I originally did not intend to participate in political activities, but the train has started, and it has no brakes. It is important to bring to power a political force capable of destroying the system," he said.
The Ruling Coalition Split
The government of Liberal Democrat Valeriu Strelet stepped down under pressure from opposition parties supported by the Democratic Party of Moldova on October 29. It happened amidst mass opposition riots and a split in the ruling "Alliance for European Integration", which comprises the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (LDPM); the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM); and the Liberal Party (LP). A fight for power among the former allies prevented them from forming the parliamentary majority and approving a new government for the past two months despite pressure from the United States and the European Union that urged the Moldovan authorities to go ahead with European integration and start a campaign against corruption.
Opposition leaders in Moldova have accused Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti of usurping power because of his inability to nominate a candidate for the prime minister’s post for 6 months.
Marian Lupu, the leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova, threatened President Timofti with impeachment if he nominated a candidate to the prime minister’s post without consultations with representatives of other parties in the Moldovan parliament. The presidential press service responded with a statement, which accused the democrats of exerting pressure on Timofti demanding he nominate businessman Vladimir Plahotniuc as candidate to the post of Moldova’s prime minister. The local media calls Plahotniuc "the grey cardinal of the Moldovan politics." President Timofti has asked western diplomats for support because of pressure exerted on him and his family.
Moldova has been shaken by anti-government protests for the past 3 months. The situation became worse after Moldova’s former prime minister, Vlad Filat, had been arrested on suspicion of corruption. Filat is the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova, which forms the nucleus of the pro-European coalition. Later, the parliament voted for the resignation of a government led by Liberal Democrat Valeriu Strelet.
The fall of the second cabinet over the past 6 months has led to a new collapse of the ruling Alliance for European Integration, which has been in power in Moldova for the past five years. Moldova’s ruling pro-European coalition includes the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova; the Democratic Party of Moldova and the Liberal Party.
Under Moldova’s constitution, it is the president who nominates a candidate to the prime minister’s post. The prime minister has got 15 days to form a new cabinet and submit it and his programme to parliament for approval. The head of state has the right to dismiss the parliament and appoint early elections if the deputies reject two candidates for prime minister proposed by him or fail to express a vote of confidence in the government within 45 days. This period expires in Moldova on January 29.