Mon, 17 Jun 2019

Moldova's Constitutional Court has condemned what it called 'vehement attacks' from inside and outside the country against its decision to suspend Moscow-friendly President Igor Dodon amid a continuing standoff between two rival governments that each declare legitimacy.

Meanwhile, Dodon has annulled a decree that dissolved parliament and called early elections signed by his replacement, Prime Minister Pavel Filip.

'Any influence or interference from the political class of the country or from abroad is inadmissible and should be treated as an attack against the constitution,' the Court said in a statement on June 11, two days after it suspended Dodon for failing to fulfill his obligation to form a government more than three months after an inconclusive election in February.

The Court's move to suspend Dodon came a day after Dodon's Socialist Party and the pro-European bloc known as ACUM announced a surprise alliance with a stated goal of removing the ruling Democratic Party (PDM) from power.

The Democratic Party is led by the controversial tycoon Vladimir Plahotniuc, who many say has been ruling Moldova from the shadows.

The unlikely deal between the pro-EU and pro-Russian parties came a day after the Court on June 7 ordered the parliament's dissolution and new elections. Moldovan law requires a government to be formed within three months of the certification of election results.

However, the leaders of the new alliance accused the Court of misinterpreting the Constitution and annulling the previous poll after 90 days, not three months.

The two groups, which together control 61 of parliament's 101 seats as opposed to PDM's 30, agreed on a framework for political cooperation and approved a new government led by Maia Sandu, one of the ACUM leaders.

PDM slammed the deal, while the Court ignored the agreement and suspended Dodon then appointed PDM premier Filip as interim president, who announced September 6 as the date for early elections.

The Socialists and ACUM have accused the Court of being controlled by Plahotniuc.

The Foreign Ministry of Russia, which still has more than 1,000 troops stationed in Moldova's breakaway region of Transdniester, came out in support of the new coalition on June 10.

The United States, the EU, and NATO have urged both sides to show restraint.

Brussels did not explicitly endorse the new government but said, 'the European Union stands ready to work with the democratically legitimate government.'

Moldovan President Igor Dodon speaks at a press conference in Chisinau on June 11.

Dodon told reporters on June 11 that he had signed a decree seeking to override Filip's call for snap parliamentary elections, which he dismissed as 'unlawful.'

'The decree signed by Mr. Filip on the dissolution of parliament and the declaration of early parliamentary elections on Sept. 6 does not comply with constitutional norms,' Dodon said.

President Klaus Iohannis of neighboring Romania, with which Moldova shares a common language, culture, and history, called for 'responsible dialogue of all political forces.'

Moldova has been dogged by political instability and corruption ever since it declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and hundreds of thousands of Moldovans have left the country.

The disappearance in 2014 of some $1 billion, or about one-eighth of Moldova's gross domestic product, from its banking system sparked a wave of public outrage that led to the creation of an anti-corruption civic movement called the Dignity and Truth Platform (DA).

The Dignity and Truth Platform is now part of the pro-EU ACUM alliance.

DA has long claimed that Plahotniuc was involved in what came to be known as 'the theft of the century.'

With reporting by RFE/RL's Moldovan Service, unimedia.md, g4media.ro, Reuters, and AFP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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