Washington, 14 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- A U.S. State Department official says Washington hopes Moldova's first multi-party presidential election this weekend will be open and democratic.
The Director of the State Department's Office of Western Slavic and Moldovan Affairs, Jack Segal, says the number of presidential candidates is an indication of the progress the country has made since it became independent in 1991.
In the December 1991 presidential election, Moldova's current president, Mirceau Snegur, was the only candidate. Now he is seeking re-election and competing against eight other candidates.
Segal says Americans will be among the international observers monitoring the elections. He said the U.S. hopes the election monitors will have free access to polling stations throughout Moldova.
Segal expressed concern about restrictions imposed recently on a senior representative of the OSCE, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who was traveling in Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region. Rebel leaders there have said they will elect their own president in December.
Segal said the U.S. expects international efforts to settle the Transdniester problem to intensify after the election. Ukraine, the OSCE and Russia are mediating the negotiations on the separatist region's legal status.