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Europe

Opposition vows new protests over alleged election fraud

Video by Louis MASSIE

Latest update : 2009-04-12

Moldova's opposition vowed Saturday to hold new protests against election results after riots earlier this week, amid charges that journalists and students were detained during demonstrations.

AFP - Moldova's opposition vowed Saturday to hold new protests against election results after riots earlier this week, amid charges that journalists and students were detained during demonstrations.
   
The opposition also rejected President Vladimir Voronin's proposal for a recount of the parliamentary polls, as members of the electoral commission alleged that dead people appeared on voter lists.
   
Voronin also faced pressure from the United States and European Union to respect the right to protest following post-election rioting on Tuesday which saw nearly 200 arrests.
   

An alliance of opposition parties said they were calling new demonstrations in the capital of this impoverished ex-Soviet state on Sunday morning against the official results of last weekend's polls.
   
Voronin on Friday called for a recount to restore trust in the process following the polls to choose a new parliament that will select his successor.
   
But on Saturday opposition leaders said the problem was less with the count than with other irregularities such as the inclusion on voter lists of numerous deceased residents.
   
"The opposition is not interested in the vote recount that the president of Moldova's Communist Party, Vladimir Voronin, demanded," said the leader of the Alliance Our Moldova, Serafim Urekian, at a joint opposition news conference.
   
"This is a trick intended to play for time," he said.
   
He said the election commission agreed to let the opposition inspect voter lists, but the four days allowed was insufficient for the task.
   
The Communists cemented their eight-year dominance of Moldovan politics in the weekend polls, gaining 60 of the 101 seats in the new parliament.
   
The electoral commission approved Saturday the final results of the polls, which will be handed to the constitutional court. But three of the panel's nine members charged that there were "serious violations."
   
One of the three members, Mikhail Busulac, said voter lists included people who "died 15 to 20 years ago" and denounced the "abusive use of administration resources by the party in power."
   
The unrest has caused anxiety in the EU over the potential for instability in this divided eastern European nation.
   
"I welcome the return to calm in the streets of Chisinau," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement on Saturday.
   
"At this stage, it is important that all involved keep avoiding the use of force or inflammatory rhetoric, and that the Moldovan authorities guarantee full respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights, including the rights of peaceful assembly, access to information and expression, in line with Moldova’s international commitments," she said.
   
The opposition claims that hundreds of young activists were arrested during the rioting and many of them beaten, in some cases in apparent retaliation for helping foreign journalists. The authorities have not responded to the claims.
   
"We are concerned particularly about detention of journalists and students without apparent basis and about pressures on teachers to prevent their students from participation in demonstrations," US Ambassador Asif Chaudhry said in an interview with the Moldovan news agency Infotag.
   
"We saw credible television reports about cases when journalists and students had been detained and beaten. Such cases, including mistreatment and intimidation of journalists or any other citizen, should not take place in a democracy."
   
The US and EU diplomats welcomed Voronin's proposal to hold a recount and the electoral commission's decision to let the opposition review voter lists.
   
"Both are important steps to consolidate confidence and need to be conducted in appropriate conditions," Ferrero-Waldner said.
   

Date created : 2009-04-12

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