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Moldovans head to polls in presidential runoff

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
People walk past an electoral poster of presidential candidate Igor Dodon reading, “We’ll win, Moldova will be better” in Chisinau on November 12, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

After inconclusive presidential elections, Moldova is holding a run-off poll, in which the Russia-friendly candidate is expected to score a victory against his West-leaning rival.

The polls opened on Sunday morning and are slated to close at 1900 GMT, with a preliminary count to be announced early Monday.

The first round of the election was held on October 30, giving Igor Dodon, a former economy minister during the Communist rule and the current head of the Socialist Party, 48 percent and pro-Europe Maya Sandu, a center-right former education minister who worked for the World Bank, 38.

The ex-Soviet country is located on the fault line separating Russia from Europe.

Dodon, who campaigns on a pro-Moscow ticket, argues that the recent gravitation towards the European Union, marked by its signing an EU association agreement in 2014, has cost the country its ties with neighboring Russia.

“Life in Moldova has become unbearable, our partnership with Russia has been destroyed, we lost access to a massive market,” he said in a campaign speech.

Presidential candidate of the center-right Moldovan opposition, Maia Sandu stands during a press conference in Chisinau on November 11, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Sandu, on the other hand, wants the country to move toward Europe. She argues that Moldova will have a more prosperous future in the European Union.

The EU association agreement “is the basis for the country’s development,” she said in a televised debate. “It means reforms and fighting corruption, and without this, the country cannot develop, it has no future.”

The election is also momentous as it is the first one in 16 years, which has the public, instead of the parliament, elect the head of state.

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