Page last updated at 09:55 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 10:55 UK

Moldova in presidential deadlock

Moldovan parliament, Chisinau
Opposition parties say they will force parliament to be dissolved

Moldova's parliament has failed to elect a new president - increasing the possibility the country will have to hold a new general election.

The last election sparked violent scenes as protesters claimed the Communist Party victory was fraudulent.

The Communists needed 61 votes in the 101-seat parliament to elect their candidate Zinaida Greceanii - but only mustered 60 amid an opposition boycott.

If a second vote on 28 May also fails, parliament will have to be dissolved.

Opposition parties have vowed to maintain their boycott, forcing dissolution and a new general election.

The result of the last parliamentary election, in April, gave the Communists 60 seats - one short of the three-fifths majority needed to elect a president.

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.

President Vladimir Voronin and his government accused neighbouring Romania of stoking the violence, causing an angry row between the countries.

Mr Voronin has to step down after the maximum two terms in office. But he has been elected speaker of parliament - a move analysts say could enable him to retain his hold on power.

Europe's poorest

April's general election 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 Romania.

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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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES Mired in Moldova - 7 hrs ago
Sofia Echo EU foreign ministers urge negotiated solution in Moldova - 39 hrs ago
Easy Bourse 2nd UPDATE Moldova Parliament Sets May 28 Presidential Vote (DJ) - 43 hrs ago Moldova lurches towards instability - 46 hrs ago
Radio Free Europe Moldovan Communists Fail In Presidential Vote - 46 hrs ago

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