Pro-Rus­sia can­di­date Dodon wins Moldova pres­i­dency

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pro-Rus­sian can­di­date Igor Dodon yes­ter­day emerged as win­ner of Moldova’s pres­i­den­tial runoff, viewed as an East-West choice in the im­pov­er­ished exSoviet coun­try. With 99.9 per­cent of bal­lots counted, So­cial­ist Party chief Dodon had 52.3 per­cent of the votes, ac­cord­ing to the elec­toral com­mis­sion, with pro-Euro­pean ri­val Maia Sandu on 47.7 per­cent. “We have won, ev­ery­one knows it,” Dodon told a press con­fer­ence overnight. The full re­sults are ex­pected to be an­nounced later this week. Krem­lin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow re­spected the re­sults of the Moldovan vote and con­grat­u­lated its win­ner.

The vote marks the first time in 20 years that Moldova-wracked by cor­rup­tion scan­dals in re­cent years-is elect­ing its leader by na­tional vote in­stead of hav­ing par­lia­ment se­lect the head of state. Wedged be­tween Ukraine and Ro­ma­nia, the tiny na­tion of 3.5 mil­lion peo­ple is caught in a po­lit­i­cal tug-ofwar be­tween Rus­sia and the West. Dodon had come out top in the first round of vot­ing on Oc­to­ber 30 with 48 per­cent ahead of Sandu, a cen­tre-right for­mer ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter who worked for the World Bank, with 38 per­cent.

They have di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed vi­sions for Moldova’s fu­ture. Dodon-who served as econ­omy min­is­ter un­der a com­mu­nist gov­ern­ment be­tween 2006 and 2009 - has called for deeper ties and boost­ing trade with Moscow. Sandu mean­while had urged a path towards Europe, call­ing for the with­drawal of thou­sands of Rus­sian troops from the Rus­sian-speak­ing separatist re­gion of Trans­d­ni­ester, which broke away in the early 1990s af­ter a brief civil war. Moldova signed an his­toric EU as­so­ci­a­tion agree­ment in 2014, and half of its ex­ports now go to the bloc.

The move was bit­terly op­posed by Rus­sia, which re­sponded with an em­bargo tar­get­ing Moldova’s cru­cial agri­cul­ture sec­tor. “Close ties united us with Moldova be­fore but then the scope of our re­la­tions slid,” Peskov told jour­nal­ists Mon­day. “But Rus­sia has al­ways been and re­mains com­mit­ted to main­tain­ing ties with Moldova.” Both can­di­dates crit­i­cized the vote as badly or­ga­nized, high­light­ing the short­age of bal­lot pa­pers for over­seas vot­ers. More than 4,000 Moldovan and in­ter­na­tional ob­servers were on hand to mon­i­tor the vote. Turnout was 53.4 per­cent, the elec­toral com­mis­sion said.

The vote comes as a Moscow-friendly gen­eral also claimed vic­tory in ex-com­mu­nist Bul­garia’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion Sun­day, prompt­ing Prime Min­is­ter Boyko Borisov to an­nounce his res­ig­na­tion as his nom­i­nee was dealt a crush­ing de­feat. Speak­ing at a polling sta­tion on Sun­day, Dodon had de­scribed his cam­paign as “against the oli­garchs, against those who have robbed our coun­try and want to de­stroy it”. — AFP

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