CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — A caretaker government in Moldova on Friday announced its resignation in order to end a power struggle that has heightened political tensions in the impoverished ex-Soviet republic.
But the administration dominated by the Democratic Party, which is led by the powerful oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, also said it still considers the new Moldovan government to be illegal and that an early election should be held as the way out of the political crisis that followed months of stalemate after an inconclusive election in February.
Moldova’s new coalition government was formed last weekend with the pro-Russia Socialist Party of President Igor Dodon and a pro-European ACUM group. But the Democrats — backed by Moldova’s Constitutional Court — have disputed the government’s legitimacy, claiming it was formed after a postelection deadline.
The stalemate has triggered a power struggle that has raised fears of political instability in one of Europe’s poorest nations.
“The Constitutional Court decisions are still standing and the new government will be an illegal one,” Democratic Party vice president Vladimir Cebotari said after announcing the government’s resignation. “Because of this we will most likely end up having early elections, the only solution to the current crisis.”
“The Democratic Party remains open to dialogue,” he said.
The party position was echoed by caretaker Prime Minister Pavel Filip who also pointed out that his government’s resignation doesn’t cancel the Constitutional Court’s ruling.
The Constitutional Court had also suspended Dodon over his refusal to dissolve parliament and replaced him with Filip. Filip then ordered parliament to dismantle and called a snap election for September. But this was rejected by Dodon — Modova’s president since 2016 — and the new administration.
Dodon described the outgoing government’s resignation Friday as a “small but symbolic victory.” He urged the Constitutional Court to revise what he described as “unlawful” decisions it had made.
The new administration has insisted that the Constitutional Court is dominated by Democratic Party allies.
New Prime Minister Maia Sandu expressed hope that the decision by the Democratic Party to concede defeat is “sincere.” She called for the resignation of the Constitutional Court judges and the country’s general prosecutor.
“I have a message to the entire world: Moldova is finally free,” Sandu said. “And we would like to thank everybody, who helped us in these difficult times.”
Corruption-plagued Moldova has been beset by political turmoil and has been an arena of rivalry between the West and Russia since it won independence after the 1991 collapse of Soviet Union.
Vadim Ghirda in Bucharest, Romania and, Jovana Gec in Belgrade, Serbia, have contributed to this report.