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Moldova Court Confirms Ghimpu As Acting President

Acting Moldovan President Mihai Ghimpu

Acting Moldovan President Mihai Ghimpu

CHISINAU (Reuters) -- A Moldovan court has confirmed Mihai Ghimpu as acting president over the objections of the powerful communist opposition, a step towards ending a political stalemate in Europe's poorest country.

A statement by the Constitutional Court recognized Ghimpu, who is parliament speaker and a leading light in a pro-European coalition, as acting president, rejecting a procedural challenge by the communists.

Ghimpu signed a decree appointing a Western-leaning party leader, Vlad Filat, as prime minister.

Filat, leader of one of four parties that outscored the incumbent communists in an election in July, now has 15 days to form a new government. Parliament must then approve his choice of minister and plan of action.

The pro-European coalition won a parliamentary election in July over the communists, gaining enough seats to form a government but not to elect a president.

Veteran communist president Vladimir Voronin, in power since 2001 but not allowed to run for a third consecutive term, stayed on in power but then quit on September 11.

Commentators said Ghimpu's first act, now that his position has been confirmed, would be to nominate a prime minister.

Subsequently Ghimpu has to organize an election for president by parliamentary deputies in a bid to end deadlock, though this is not likely to take place until late October.

Analysts expect pro-European parties to support Marian Lupu, a communist defector, for the post. But the 53 seats they hold are short of the 61 required to push through their candidate.

Though support from some communists is vital for Lupu's election, the communists are imposing tough conditions in exchange for their cooperation including a commitment not to try to take the ex-Soviet country into NATO.