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Moldovan president rejects candidacy of Vladimir Plahotniuc for prime minister

According to the statement, "Plahotniuc fails to meet the criteria of a candidate for the post of prime minister"
Vladimir Plahotniuc EPA/DUMITRU DORU
Vladimir Plahotniuc

CHISINAU, January 13. /TASS/. Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti has rejected the candidacy of Vladimir Plahotniuc, proposed on Wednesday by the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) for the post of prime minister, the press service of the country’s head of state said in a release.

According to the statement, "Plahotniuc fails to meet the criteria of a candidate for the post of prime minister." The Moldovan head proposed to the parliamentary majority to nominate another candidate for the post by 12:00, local time (13:00, Moscow time) on January 14.

Several thousand opponents of Plahotniuc who is called by the local media a "grey cardinal of the Moldovan politics" gathered for a protest rally on Wednesday. They picketed the presidential residence in Chisinau, demanding not to sign the decree appointing him as a candidate for prime minister. Timofti held consultations on Wednesday morning with the EU countries’ ambassadors and left for his countryside residence, where he received a delegation of the Democratic Party that presented to him their decision to nominate Plahotniuc. Previously, he specified a number of conditions to the future prime minister, saying that "his integrity should not cause doubt."

According to the Moldovan Constitution, the country’s president nominates a candidate for the prime minister’s post. The prime minister is given 15 days to form a new cabinet and present it and his programme to the 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.

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. 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.

On Monday (January 11), the leader of the Democratic Party, Marian Lupu, announced that a new parliamentary majority has been formed consisting of 56 lawmakers in the 101-member parliament. It is due to propose a candidate for prime minister to the president on Wednesday. Observers say President Nicolae Timofti does not back this proposal.

The president is also under pressure of demonstrators of a tent city in downtown Chisinau organized by the Civic Platform DA (Dignity and Justice). Several hundred supporters of the movement threatened on Tuesday to renew mass protests if the president nominates a candidate from the Democratic Party as a new prime minister.

"We know that the party plans to promote to this post Vladimir Plahotniuc or his henchman through blackmail and bribery," one of the platform’s leaders, Valentin Dolganiuc, told protesters at a rally outside the presidential residence.

During the rally, the demonstrators said they would support only an unbiased prime minister and continue seeking early parliamentary elections and also nationwide presidential polls.

"Today’s authorities in Moldova have been caught stealing and should go, and only early parliamentary elections can renew the political class," one of the leaders of an informal organization, Andrei Nastase said.

Most state bodies in Moldova have been seized by oligarchs, he said. "They interpret the constitution in their own way. They have forced the president to nominate as prime minister a candidate of the parliamentary majority governed by democrats.".