Moldova president scraps parliament's dissolution in standoff

Chisinau (AFP) –


Moldova's President Igor Dodon on Tuesday annulled a decree to dissolve parliament, enforcing a standoff between two governments that both insist on their claim to lead the eastern European country.

The poor ex-Soviet state, nestled between Romania and Ukraine, has been in political chaos since February when a general election failed to give a clear majority to any party.

At the weekend, parliament approved a new government built on an unprecedented coalition of pro-Russian and pro-European forces, which came together to freeze out the party of an influential oligarch.

But the Constitutional Court had already ordered fresh elections and it effectively blocked the new coalition by suspending Dodon and appointing the former prime minister as interim leader.

Ex-premier Pavel Filip, from the Democratic Party led by oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, used his short time as acting president to dissolve parliament and call snap elections for September.

But back in office Dodon cancelled the order.

"We consider the decision of the Constitutional Court illegitimate and arbitrary -- it is against the fundamental laws of the country and poses a threat to the security of Moldova," Dodon said after a National Security Council meeting.

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.

The previously ruling Democratic Party has refused to recognise the new government.

Dodon told AFP in an interview Tuesday that there will be no talks with the Democratic Party until it agrees to a "peaceful transition of power."

- 'Turn a page' -

Dodon acknowledged that the Socialist Party and the ACUM alliance that make up the new coalition government have "absolutely different political visions".

Nevertheless they "share the same goal: to kick out the governing party from state institutions and to turn a page," he said.

"And I think this will happen."

Both parties have said in a statement to parliament that Moldova was "wallowing in corruption" and "captive" to oligarchs.

Dodon insisted that the new government will continue a political course towards closer integration with Europe.

"Our position is very clear: all agreements with the European Union will stand, nothing will be cancelled," he said.

Yet he also said the new government would take into account the views of Moldovans who want to maintain ties with former Soviet master Moscow.

"Giving that our country is divided, half and half, with some wanting closer ties with Russia while others with EU, the only solution to satisfy everybody is a balanced foreign policy," he said.

While saying he has "very good relations with Russia and President (Vladimir) Putin," Dodon complained his opponents have "used this (pro-Russian) label to scare off the West".

Five EU states including Britain, France and Germany on Monday threw their support behind the coalition.

Moscow also congratulated the coalition and said it was "ready to work with the democratically elected authorities".

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