Moldovan president appoints interim PM but pushes for snap election

·2-min read
Moldova's President Maia Sandu meets Romania's President Klaus Iohannis in Chisinau

By Alexander Tanas

CHISINAU (Reuters) - Moldova's new President Maia Sandu appointed Foreign Minister Aureliu Ciocoi as interim prime minister on Thursday, but pushed on for a snap election in a bid to overhaul the whole government and strengthen her grip on power.

Sandu, a former World Bank economist, defeated pro-Moscow incumbent Igor Dodon in last month's presidential vote, promising to fight endemic corruption and put relations with the European Union back on track.

Lawmakers from Dodon's Socialist party still dominate parliament in Moldova - an eastern European country of 3.5 million, where the West and Russia vie for influence.

The interim appointment of Ciocoi, a career diplomat who was previously Dodon's foreign policy adviser, kept the wheels of government rolling.

Sandu said she hoped the Constitutional Court would now agree to a motion from the right-leaning Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS), the party she led before becoming president, to allow parliament to vote for a snap election.

Such an election, if the party built on her own success in the presidential vote, might allow it to appoint its own government.

"I hope that the court will consider the request of the PAS deputies in a few days," Sandu said. "I have other options, but this option is the fastest and the shortest and therefore should be used."

Moldova has been rocked in recent years by instability and corruption scandals, including the disappearance of $1 billion from the banking system.

Sandu has accused the Socialist-dominated parliament of pushing through laws meant to strip her of powers and sabotage her presidency.

In Moldova, the president has the power to appoint the prime minister, is the head of the armed forces and the national security council and can dissolve parliament if no party can secure enough support to form a government.

(Writing by Pavel Polityuk and Matthias Williams; Editing by Alex Richardson and Andrew Heavens)

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