EU states back Moldova parliament in constitutional struggle

Paris (AFP) –


Five EU states including Britain, France and Germany on Monday threw their support behind Moldova's parliament as it negotiated a constitutional crisis pitting it against an interim president wanting it dissolved to hold new elections.

The parliament of the poor ex-Soviet state, nestled between Romania and Ukraine, is the "best place to discuss all political issues," the EU countries, including Poland and Sweden, declared in a joint statement.

Moldova, one of Europe's poorest nations and not an EU member, has been struggling with political chaos since a general election in February failed to give a clear majority to any party.

A day after its Constitutional Court on Friday said fresh elections needed to be held, the parliament approved a new government built on an unprecedented coalition of pro-Russian and pro-European forces.

The Court then effectively blocked that governing alliance by suspending the country's president, Igor Dodon, and appointing the former prime minister, Pavel Filip, as interim leader.

Filip immediately ordered the parliament dissolved and new elections for September 6.

In Monday's statement, the five EU states backed the parliament over the other constitutional branches.

"In the current constitutional crisis, we see and support the parliament of Moldova, as the representative of the people of Moldova, and as the best place to discuss all political issues including controversial ones," they said.

They echoed a broader European Union appeal for "calm and restraint" and stressed that "all the sides bear responsibility for the resolution of this constitutional crisis by peaceful means".

- 'Captive' to oligarchs -

Dodon is from the pro-Russian Socialist Party, which said Saturday it was willing to join the pro-European ACUM alliance to run the country. Both parties said Moldova was "wallowing in corruption" and "captive" to oligarchs.

But that proposed tie-up would have frozen out the previous ruling party, the Democratic Party, which is led by a powerful oligarch, Vlad Plahotniuc.

On Sunday, thousands of Democratic Party supporters rallied in the capital Chisinau, many of them bussed in and watched over by a heavy police presence.

Plahotniuc addressed the crowd, saying he was confident his party would win the September 6 elections and describing Dodon as "not worthy of occupying the post of president".

Dodon, for his part, complained that the Democratic Party was refusing to hand over power to "a lawful parliamentary majority and a lawful government" and urged international mediation.

Moldova, once part of Romania before it became a Soviet Republic then independent, contains a Russian-backed breakaway region called Transnistria.