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Moldova Calls April Poll; Voronin Seeks Control

Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin: Barred from seeking a third term
CHISINAU (Reuters) -- Moldova's parliament has voted to hold an election to the chamber on April 5, the first in a series of acts that may enable veteran communist President Vladimir Voronin to stay in or close to power.

The vote was unanimous in the chamber, which elects the president in the ex-Soviet state wedged between Ukraine and Romania.

Voronin, the only communist leader in a former Soviet state, has been in power for eight years and is barred from seeking a third term in Moldova, Europe's poorest country still beset by separatism in its Transdniester region.

But there has been widespread speculation that he will try to retain power by becoming prime minister, chairman of parliament, or leader of the assembly's largest group.

Voronin's Communists lead polls with 25 to 30 percent of the vote.

Three opposition parties, broadly pro-Romanian in outlook, are likely to just clear the 6 percent needed to win seats.