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Moldovan protesters expect authorities’ reaction to ultimatum

January 28, 2016, 5:14 UTC+3 CHISINAU

The opposition has given the authorities three days to decide if the government of Pavel Filip should resign, or the protesters will switch to the acts of civil disobedience

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© Vadim Denisov/TASS, archive

CHISINAU, January 28. /TASS/. Moldova’s opposition that has drawn several thousand people to anti-government protests expects the authorities to react towards its ultimatum on Thursday.

The opposition has given the authorities three days to decide if the government of Pavel Filip, which it claims is illegal, should resign and early parliamentary elections are to announced, or the protesters will switch to the acts of civil disobedience.

"At the rally on Sunday we passed a resolution setting an ultimatum for the authorities. Now we are waiting for the answer. After they have their say we will announce our future steps. The National Salvation Committee will take the decision," said the leader of the Party of Socialists, Igor Dodon.

The National Salvation Committee was set up at the thousands-strong anti-government protest in downtown Chisinau on Sunday by the opposition Party of Socialists, the Our Party and the Civil Platform Dignity and Truth (DA).

The opposition plans to continue the protests if the authorities fail to meet the demands. "We will switch to the acts of civil disobedience - this may be blocking roads, the airport and railways," Dodon said.

On Sunday, the protesters showed how they plan to increase their pressure on the authorities when they marched in thousands-strong columns shouting anti-government slogans, paralyzing traffic and blocking roads to Chisinau from the direction of Romania.

These actions led to multi-kilometer traffic jams and disrupted the operations of many city services that were resumed only by Monday. The city transport in the Moldovan capital also sustained huge losses due to the protests.

Protesters’ demands

The opposition says the power in the country was usurped at the parliamentary elections in November 2014.

The National Salvation Committee, consisting of the representatives of the civil society and the opposition parties, is set to "liberate" the country, the resolution endorsed at Sunday’s rally says.

The protesters also called on the United States and the European Union, whom they call "partners in development" to back the opposition and not to support "the oligarchic power." They ask the international community to organize "fair elections" in the country that should take place no later than April 2016.

The opposition also insists on replacing the heads of the Central Election Commission, the Prosecutor-General’s Office, the Interior Ministry, the National Anticorruption Center, the Information and Security Service, the Coordination Council for Television and Radio and others that it says are controlled by oligarchs who have usurped power.

The opposition has called on the law enforcement bodies to stop persecution of its members and immediately release political prisoners, including former MP Grigory Petrenko, who was held during the last year’s protests.

Authorities’ response

Moldova’s Parliament Speaker Andrian Candu has said these demands cannot be met. "We had consultations with lawyers and found no legal grounds for the parliament’s dissolution. If they (opposition) believe we have lost something, let them show the documents," he said.

Candu reminded that the country’s constitution mentions three cases when the parliament can be dissolved: the incapacity of the legislature, the failure of the MPs to choose the president and the refusal to express confidence to the government.

The parliament considers the government of Filip to be legitimate, he stressed.

"Yes, it was endorsed in difficult conditions, but the law was not violated," the speaker said. "Early elections is not the way out of the current situation," he said. "Moldova has serious financial problems today and the government needs to start working immediately, that’s why the opposition’s demand for considering the cabinet as illegitimate is ruled out."

The speaker also called on the opposition to comply with the law during the protests and not to block state buildings and call for violence.

Mass protests have been held in Chisinau since January 20, when the opposition brought people to the streets to prevent the parliamentary majority formed around the Democratic Party from endorsing the new government of Pavel Filip. The protesters accused authorities that this majority had been established through blackmail and graft, Moldova’s mass media reported.

The new government was approved within six minutes as the MPs of the opposition’s socialist party blocked the parliament’s tribune and gave no chance to the candidate for the prime minister to present his program. The opposition supporters were angered by the move and decided to storm the parliament building. More than 30 people were injured in clashes with police, most of them law enforcers. The new government’s oath-taking ceremony was held hastily and some its members failed to attend it.

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