Moldova goes to polls
CHISINAU: Ex-Soviet Moldova went to the polls yesterday in its first popular presidential election since the 1990s, seen as a tug-of-war between supporters of closer relations with Russia and those seeking EU integration.
The crisis-hit country of 3.5 million wedged between Ukraine and Romania is the poorest in Europe and has struggled with a string of highprofile corruption scandals which are overshadowing the vote.
Presidential candidates are presenting diametrically opposed visions for the country’s future: calling for deeper ties and boosting trade with Moscow, or committing to the path towards Europe.
Voting commenced at 7am (1pm in Malaysia) at the nearly 2,000 polling stations across the country.
Moldova has been rocked by protests and political turmoil since the mysterious disappearance of US$1 billion (RM4.2 billion) from three banks last year, which undermined people’s support for the ruling pro-Western coalition.
Western observers monitoring the campaign said in September that Moldovans lack confidence in state authorities after the bank scandal, which led to the suspension of EU aid that risks plunging the country into even deeper poverty.
Already 41% of the population live on less than US$5 a day while the monthly average salary is US$240, according to World Bank figures.
Moldova last elected a president by popular vote in 1996, after which members of parliament chose the head of state. – AFP