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Page last updated at 07:18 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 08:18 UK

Police retake Moldova parliament

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Moldovan police move into parliament

Riot police in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, have regained control of the parliament building that had earlier been stormed by protesters.

This followed the re-election of the Communist Party in Sunday's elections.

Thousands of anti-communist demonstrators stormed parliament, smashing furniture, throwing computers through windows and lighting fires.

More protests, which President Vladimir Voronin said amounted to an attempted coup, are expected on Wednesday.

In a televised address on Tuesday, he said he would protect Moldova from what he called a handful of fascists drunk on anger.

State TV quoted police as saying one woman had died from carbon monoxide poisoning during the protests.

Coup d'etat?

Demonstrators set a bonfire on the steps of parliament, 7 April in Chisinau
Protesters looted the parliament building on Tuesday

Trouble first erupted on Monday when the election results were announced amid claims from opposition parties that the poll had been rigged.

Opposition leaders have backed the protests, saying the election result was fraudulent. They condemned the violence, but said the protests would continue.

Mr Voronin called on Western powers to help restore order, saying that observers had declared Sunday's elections free and fair.

"Everything that they have undertaken in the last 24 hours cannot be described as anything other than a coup d'etat," he said.

"The authorities in Moldova will not allow groups of fascists intoxicated with hatred to trample on our democracy."

Accusations denied

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has urged all sides in the former Soviet state to refrain from violence.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged Mr Voronin to find a quick and peaceful solution to the crisis.

Vladimir Voronin votes (5 April 2009)
President Voronin is barred from standing for a third term

President Voronin and Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii held talks with the leaders of the three main opposition parties - the Liberal Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and Our Moldova Alliance.

The three parties later denied accusations from Mr Voronin's supporters that they were attempting a coup d'etat and reiterated that they believed the election result was fraudulent.

"We support the youths in their absolutely normal aspiration to counteract this rude election fraud," said Vlad Filat, leader of the Liberal Democrats.

"We were those who urged them not to use violence."

The Mayor of Chisinau, Dorin Chirtoaca, who is deputy head of the opposition Liberal Party, said the protests were justified "because people did not vote for the Communists in such large numbers".

'Fair' vote

Earlier on Tuesday, tear gas and jets of water were blasted at protesters by security forces defending the parliament building in the capital, Chisinau. The presidential office was also attacked.

Protesters with Moldovan flag

Medical officials said more than 30 people - including both protesters and police - had been injured.

Later, Moldovan state TV said one woman had "choked to death from carbon monoxide poisoning in the parliament".

Although election observers concluded that last weekend's vote was fair, opposition parties and many students are not convinced.

The Communist Party won 50% of votes in the election. They were followed by the Liberal Party with almost 13% of the votes, the Liberal Democratic Party with 12%, and Our Moldova Alliance on almost 10%.

It is still not clear whether the Communists will win the 61 seats in the 101-seat parliament that they need to elect Mr Voronin's successor unopposed.

Map

President Voronin is barred by the constitution from running for a third term, although he has indicated he wants to remain involved in affairs of state.

If no president is chosen before 8 June, another parliamentary election must be held.

The pro-Western centre-right opposition parties have said they will not join a coalition with the Communists, who favour strong links with both Russia and the European Union.

Mr Voronin's successor will lead the poorest country in Europe, where the average wage is just under $250 (£168) a month, and will inherit an unresolved conflict over the breakaway region of Trans-Dniester.

The region has run its own affairs, with Moscow's support, since the end of hostilities in a brief war in 1992. Mr Voronin resumed direct talks with Trans-Dniester last year.



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SEE ALSO
In pictures: Moldova protests
07 Apr 09 |  In Pictures
Moldovans in Christmas tree row
24 Dec 07 |  Europe
Country profile: Moldova
07 Apr 09 |  Country profiles
Regions and territories: Trans-Dniester
12 Feb 09 |  Country profiles

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