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Moldova: Calls For New Elections Continue Round-The-Clock

Chisinau, 1 April 2002 (RFE/RL) -- About 3,000 Moldovans camped overnight outside government headquarters in the capital to demand the resignations of the ruling Communists amid tension over the disappearance of an opposition deputy. Protesters erected tents on Chisinau's central square and vowed to keep up round-the-clock rallies. Their ranks began to swell again today as school children joined the campers.

More than 50,000 people took part in a rally yesterday as protestors continued their call for early elections, angered by what they say are government attempts to take Moldova back into the sphere of Russian influence.

The protestors also called on the government to step up its attempts to find Vlad Cubreacov, a leading member of the opposition Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD). Cubreacov, who disappeared in mid-March, was a driving force behind earlier rallies against the Communists.

"We came here to win. We will stay on this square until the Communists resign," Iurie Rosca, leader of the PPCD, told the crowd at yesterday's rally.

Protestors have taken to the streets almost every day since January, when the government announced plans for children to learn Russian alongside Moldovan. The demonstrations dwindled after the government scrapped the language plans, but gained strength following the 21 March disappearance of Cubreacov.

AP reported yesterday that in the city of Ungheni, located about 120 kilometers west of the capital, police stopped buses carrying protesters and suspended transport licenses of several bus companies. Police officers said they were enforcing road safety rules to prevent accidents.