Moldova Lurches Toward Snap Elections After PM, Cabinet Resign

By RFE/RL's Moldovan Service

Moldovan Prime Minister Ion Chicu and his government have resigned in a move to help push one of Europe’s poorest countries toward early parliamentary elections.

Chicu said he made the move on December 23 following a meeting with outgoing President Igor Dodon and Zinaida Greceanii, the head of parliament.

"It [an election] is an objective that we have declared a priority to bring the country back to normal," Chicu said.

Parliament was scheduled to debate a no-confidence motion against the government at its December 23 session.

Earlier this month, around 20,000 protesters took to the streets in Chisinau to demand early elections after lawmakers passed a bill transferring control of the country's intelligence agency from the president to parliament.

The move was seen as a way to boost the power of parliament, where pro-Moscow Socialists aligned with Dodon hold a razor-thin one-seat majority in the 101-seat legislature.

The government's resignation comes a day before the end of Dodon's term as president. President-elect Maia Sandu, who defeated Dodon in a November election, will be inaugurated on December 24.

The November presidential election was seen as a referendum on two divergent visions for the future of the Eastern European nation of 3.5 million people that is sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania.

Sandu, a former World Bank economist who favors closer ties to the European Union, promised during her presidential campaign to battle endemic corruption in Moldova.

Since the election she has called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Moscow-backed separatist region of Transdniester, prompting the Kremlin to warn it could lead to "serious destabilization.”

Sandu is expected to nominate a new prime minister after consulting with the outgoing parliament.

Since the prime minister has resigned, she can dissolve parliament if there are two failed attempts to find a successor.