Moldova's parliament has announced the country will hold a presidential election on October 30, the first time the public, and not parliament, will pick the head of state of the small, impoverished European country since 2001.
A court in early March ruled in favor of having a direct national election to choose a president rather than a vote in parliament -- a concession to protesters who have been demonstrating for months against the political elite.
The four-year term of the current president, Nicolae Timofti, expired in March, but he will continue to carry out his duties until his successor is sworn in.
In a related development, Moldova's parliament on March 31 approved a statement to pursue tougher legislation to punish those who undermine the country's "sovereignty, independence, and permanent neutrality."
The parliamentary action came after a large rally in the capital, Chisinau, on March 27 to demand Moldova's "reunification" with Romania.
Most of today’s Moldova was before WWII part of Romania, with which it shares a common language and culture.
Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Moldovan Service, Interfax, and Reuters