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Moldova's prime minister announces surprise resignation

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)
Moldovan Prime Minister Ion Chicu (file photo)

Moldovan Prime Minister Ion Chicu announced his resignation on Wednesday, paving the way for early parliamentary elections in the ex-Soviet country.

The announcement comes on the eve of the inauguration of President-elect Maia Sandu, a pro-European politician who defeated Moscow-backed incumbent Igor Dodon in a November vote.

Chicu made the announcement several hours before parliament was due to consider a vote of no confidence in the government that was initiated by the opposition.

Thousands protested earlier this month demanding the government's resignation and dissolution of parliament after it passed legislation that would limit presidential powers.

Sandu's supporters saw the measure as a way to reduce her future influence in favor of a parliament that is controlled by Dodon's supporters, but the bill was blocked in early December by the Constitutional Court.

On Wednesday Dodon said the prime minister decided to resign "not because of the vote of no confidence put forward by the opposition and not under pressure from the protesters, but in order to launch the procedure for early parliamentary elections."

He added that Chicu's resignation leads to the automatic dissolution of Moldova's government.

According to the outgoing president, Sandu can either nominate her own candidate for prime minister or develop a "road map" for an early legislative vote.

He said that "new president Maia Sandu will need to take on full responsibility for the situation".

Moldova has been split between supporters of closer relations with Moscow and those who favour European integration, in particular through the country's cultural ties with neighboring Romania.

Sandu's victory marked a setback for Russia, which is anxious to preserve its influence there and has troops deployed to the Russian-speaking breakaway region of Transnistria.

(Source: AFP)

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