Page last updated at 10:14 GMT, Friday, 10 April 2009 11:14 UK

Moldova leader wants poll recount

Moldovan riot police, 10 Apr 09
Riot police are deployed at the main TV station in the capital Chisinau

Moldova's president has called for a full recount of disputed elections, bowing to a key demand of protesters who stormed the parliament on Tuesday.

President Vladimir Voronin asked the constitutional court to order a full recount of last Sunday's election, won by the ruling Communist Party.

Opposition leaders said the election result was fraudulent.

Officials in Moldova and Russia accused Romania of fomenting the riots, but witnesses said they were spontaneous.

"I am convinced that a complete recount of votes will become a major argument for maintaining political stability, peace and mutual trust in Moldova," Mr Voronin said in an official statement, quoted by the AFP news agency.

Grinding poverty

Mr Voronin, in power since 2001, is governing a country where poverty has pushed a quarter of adults to work abroad. The global economic crisis threatens to aggravate Moldova's poverty as workers' remittances dry up.

Moldova map

The EU sent an envoy to Moldova to mediate in the dispute between President Voronin's Communist Party and the three centre-right opposition parties.

Observers from the European security body, the OSCE, concluded that the vote had been generally fair, but opposition parties and many students accused the authorities of fraud.

They called for ballots to be recounted or the vote to be re-held. Before Friday the authorities had rejected that demand.

The final election results released on Wednesday showed the Communist Party with 49.5% of the vote, winning 60 parliamentary seats. That is one seat less than the number required for the party to control the presidential election.

Mr Voronin is due to step down, having served the maximum of two consecutive terms.

Some of the young people who stormed the Moldovan parliament on Tuesday carried Romanian flags and even shouted "We are Romanians".

But the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Moscow says that any Romanian connection with the uprising is to do with economics, rather than politics.

Moldovans can see the success that Romania has enjoyed since throwing off communism and joining the European Union, he says.

On average, Romanians earn five times as much as their Moldovan neighbours.

The conclusion that many young Moldovans have come to is that a return to communist government and close friendship with Moscow has brought them nothing, our correspondent says.

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