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Conflict between president and parliament aggravates in Moldova

January 14, 2016, 9:31 UTC+3 CHISINAU

According to experts, this crisis might end up in either the resignation of the president or early parliamentary elections

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Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti

Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti

© Mikhail Metsel/TASS Archive

CHISINAU, January 14. /TASS/. A conflict has aggravated in Moldova between the national parliament and President Nicolae Timofti who rejected the candidature of Vladimir Plahotniuc nominated by the parliamentary majority for the post of the country’s prime minister.

The parliament majority formed around the Democratic Party of Moldova said on late Wednesday it would once again propose Plahotniuc’s candidacy for the country’s prime minister.

Experts say this crisis might end up in either the resignation of the president or early parliamentary elections.

President Rejects Parliament’s Nominee

Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti on Wednesday rejected the Plahotniuc’s candidature on grounds that he "fails to meet the criteria of a candidate for the post of prime minister." Thus, he said, Plahotniuc was faced with a no-confidence vote on February 22, 2013 when he was first deputy parliament speaker. Back then, he was accused of "illegal activities marring the image of the parliament and the republic." Apart from that, the Moldovan president cited the ruling of the Moldovan Constitutional Court of April 22, 2013 saying that "any political mandate is to rest on high standards of integrity."

The Moldovan president said the parliamentary majority should nominate another candidate for the post by 12:00, local time (13:00, Moscow time) on January 14.

The president said he had taken this decision after consultations with the ambassador of countries of the European Union.

Several thousand opponents of Plahotniuc dubbed by the local media a "grey cardinal of the Moldovan politics" picketed the presidential residence in Chisinau, demanding not to sign the decree appointing him as a candidate for prime minister.

Lawmakers Vs President

Late on Wednesday, the parliamentary majority came up with a statement saying they would propose Plahotniuc’s candidature once again.

"We confirm our support to Vladimir Plahitniuc’s candidature for prime minister. We undertake entire responsibility for this support relying on our judicial system and the parliamentary majority of 56 lawmakers," the statement said. "Plahotniuc’s candidature meets all constitutional norms. There is not a single legal reason why the president cannot appoint to the post of prime minister a man nominated by the parliamentary majority even if the president does not agree with this choice."

The document was signed by the leaders of the parliamentary factions that had formed the majority, namely the factions of the Democratic Party of Moldova and the Liberal Party which have 20 and 13 seats respectively, and 14 former members of the Party of Communists. They were also joined by nine members of the Liberal Democratic Party who had said they were quitting their faction.

Meanwhile, a number of Moldovan politicians told local mass media that President Timofti, whose office term expired in two months, might announce his resignation to decline responsibility and stay aloof from political struggles.

Government on the Last Try

Large-scale protests erupted in Moldova in the spring 2015 after the media had reported a theft of about one billion U.S. dollars from three Moldovan banks, which nearly went bankrupt. Back then, Moldova’s ruling Alliance for European Integration coalition came under severe criticism from foreign donors, including the European Union and the World Bank, which subsequently suspended their financing of the republic.

The situation aggravated after the arrest on corruption-related charges of former Prime Minister Vlad Filat, who is the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, the core of the pro-European coalition. Following his arrest, the parliament voted for the resignation of the government of Valeriu Strelet, also of the Liberal Democratic Party, in late October 2015. The resignation of the cabinet, the second one in the past six months, triggered collapse of the ruling Alliance For European Integration, comprising the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (LDPM), the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM), and the Liberal Party (LP), which has been in power in Moldova for the past five years.

The former allies and now rivals in a fight for power were failing to form the parliamentary majority and approve a new government for two months despite pressure from the United States and the European Union urging the Moldovan authorities to go ahead with European integration and start a campaign against corruption.

After closed-door consultations with visiting U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Bridget Brink in mid-December, Timofti unexpectedly nominated Ion Sturza, Moldova’s Prime Minister in the late 1990s, as his candidate for the head of government.

However leaders of Moldova’s Democratic Party said Sturza would not have support of the lawmakers and threatened President Timofti with impeachment if he nominated a candidate to the prime minister’s post without consultations with the parliamentary factions. In response, Timofti asked western diplomats for support because of pressure exerted on him and his family from the Democrats who lobbied the candidature of Plahotniuc dubbed by the local press as "the grey cardinal of Moldovan politics."

As a result, the Moldovan parliament boycotted voting on the Sturza’s government on January 4, with only 47 out of 101 lawmakers present. Meanwhile, Moldova’s Constitutional Court answered a lawmaker’s inquiry by saying that if the parliament finally officially formed the majority the president would be obliged to appoint a candidate supported by this majority.

Under the Moldovan Constitution, the president nominates a candidate for prime minister who is given 15 days to form a new cabinet and present his program to the parliament for approval. The president may dissolve the parliament and appoint early elections in case the lawmakers fail to vote confidence to the government within 45 days. This period expires in Moldova on January 29.

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