Moldova’s opposition accuses Communists of misusing media and rigging elections
President Vladimir Voronin   /  Photo:

Moldova’s opposition accuses Communists of misusing media and rigging elections

29 Jul, 02:58 PM

The opposition in ex-Soviet Moldova has accused the ruling Communist Party of misusing the media and rigging this week's parliamentary election, urging voters to oust what it said was the last communist "regime" in Europe, Ukrainian website reports.

Outgoing Communist President Vladimir Voronin, who wants to maintain his influence over Moldova's politics after stepping down, says Moldova risks being wiped off the map if pro-Western liberal parties win Wednesday's contest.

Most of today's Moldova was once part of Romania, and local liberals advocate closer ties with the ethnically close European Union member. Voronin seeks warmer ties with the EU, while calling giant Russia his tiny nation's "strategic partner".

Young protesters ransacked Voronin's office and parliament after the April 5 election, and denounced a big Communist lead in Europe's poorest country, which is wedged between Romania and Ukraine.

Opposition parties distanced themselves from the violence but said the vote was rigged. None has said anything about new demonstrations if they suspect rigging in Wednesday's new vote.

Monday was the final day of an ill-tempered campaign in the new election. It was triggered by the opposition thwarting Voronin's plan to retain his influence, by securing the election of a compliant successor by parliament.

Polls show the Communists, popular among older and rural voters, with 30 percent support, down from nearly 50 in April. Three opposition parties, two of which are broadly pro-Romanian in outlook, have a combined score of around 30 percent.

"The election has already been rigged, through the dragging of state structures into the campaign and the aggressive pro-Communist mass media acting as executioners at Voronin's service," Vlad Filat, leader of the Liberal Democrats, told a news conference.

Filat ducked reporters' questions on whether the opposition planned street protests after the election.

"In Europe, communism as a political regime...still exists only in Moldova," a group of liberal parties said in a statement after a modest rally in central Chisinau. "We have a chance in this election to turn this gruesome page once and for all."

The Communists, who enjoyed blanket media coverage in the campaign, said their rivals were unable to admit their imminent defeat in the new election.

"The moral state of the opposition is such that its readiness to indulge in fraud and libel present a real threat to the free expression of will on July 29," Marc Tcaciuc, who runs Voronin's election campaign, told a news briefing.

Voronin, 68, has been in office since 2001 and cannot run for a third term. He was elected parliamentary speaker in June and had hoped to keep on running Moldovan affairs after that job.

Voronin first aligned himself with Russia, then with Romania -- linked to Moldova by a common language and history. He now accuses Romania of fomenting the April violence and of trying to subvert his country by offering Moldovans passports en masse -- 800,000 have secured citizenship or applied for it.

The Liberal Democratic Party and the far-right Liberal Party could together score 20 percent or slightly more. But the key to forming a viable coalition could lie with the centrist Democratic Party, whose support has leapt from 4 to 10 percent.

The party's new leader is Marian Lupu, who defected from the Communists. Analysts say he could forge a post-election deal with the Communists on condition that Voronin leave politics.



Tags: Moldova, elections, opposition,

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