Page last updated at 11:26 GMT, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 12:26 UK

Voronin elected Moldova's speaker

Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin, April 10, 2009
Vladimir Voronin said he would try to bring opponents together

Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin has been elected as speaker of parliament.

Mr Voronin, of the ruling Communist Party, is due to step down as president as he has served the maximum two terms.

He called for reconciliation with opposition parties, after bitter divisions over the recent parliamentary election erupted into street violence.

But his election was opposed by all 41 opposition deputies. They have vowed to block the selection of a new president, and so force a new general election.

Even if we have irreconcilable ideological differences with the opposition, we have to join efforts for the sake of those people who voted for us
Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin

At least 61 votes are needed in the 101-seat parliament to elect a new president, but the Communists have only 60, and the opposition has vowed to remain united.

Addressing the chamber, Mr Voronin said he would try to bring both sides together.

"Even if we have irreconcilable ideological differences with the opposition, we have to join efforts for the sake of those people who voted for us," he said.

"I see my main task as speaker of parliament in ensuring such co-operation."

Generations split

Mr Voronin had said before the general election on 5 April that he wanted to remain involved in affairs of state, and analysts say being speaker could enable him to retain his hold on power.

The vote opened up deep divisions between Moldovans.

Many older people were content to keep the Russian-backed Communists in power, while the younger generation generally backed the centre-right opposition parties, who are keen to move closer to the EU and improve ties with neighbouring Romania.

Although international observers said the election was generally fair, many young people felt the result was stolen, and thronged the capital, Chisinau, on 7 April, attacking the parliament building.

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.

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